Mixed reactions to student loan forgiveness plan among Californians with higher cost of living

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ByJ.R. Stone via KGO logo
Thursday, August 25, 2022
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Many in California say Biden's student loan forgiveness plan fails to consider regional differences in the cost of living.

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- The new student loan forgiveness plan covers those who make less than $125,000 a year. It will wipe out up to $20,000 in debt for those who went to college on Pell Grants and $10,000 for other federal loans. In addition, the current pause on Federal Student Loan repayment has been extended through December. Bold reaction now coming in from those in California and beyond.

MORE: Biden unveils federal student loan forgiveness plan, extend repayment pause

"It was great to wake up to and see!"

Shannon William-Juarez is a Pell Grant recipient who learned Wednesday that the government will forgive $20,000 of her nearly $30,000 student loan debt.

"I won't have to worry about, you know one week I'm going to have to feed my kids, or if I can make my car payment or insurance," said Williams-Juarez.

The new student loan relief program was announced by President Biden Wednesday wiping out thousands in debt for 43 million borrowers.

WATCH: Who benefits from Biden's student loan forgiveness plan, how much debt could be canceled

"I was happy considering just the other day on the radio, I was listening to these famous rich people, including those politicians that got those PPP loans forgiven," said Emma Morales who will receive loan forgiveness.

"We know that middle class Americans, those who are struggling financially are having a hard time paying loans, and we want to avoid defaults when loans restart in January," said U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona.

But while the Secretary of Education said that in Washington, some here in California, where the cost of living is much higher, wonder where they fit in.

"Even in the state of California you could make a $125,000 a year and you can still live month to month, so that makes a difference in a car payment, being able to put food on the table for your family," said Candice Roflo who is unable to receive loan forgiveness because of how much she makes. Roflo is a nurse and nurse instructor in Solano County who says many nurses in the Bay Area make more than $125,000 a year, face thousands in debt, and still no relief.

"We need to create some kind of equality. It doesn't take into consideration the cost of living and that effects us in California. I would like for our lawmakers and our governor to advocate for students in California," said Roflo.

VIDEO: The haves and have-nots, the stark disparity of inflation in the Bay Area

To others like Shaun Leong, who teaches at a high school in Oakland, $10,000 will only go so far.

"It's not really helpful, but it's something. I think if they looked at cost of living in certain parts of the country and adjusted based on that I think it would be more beneficial for everyone," said Leong.

Congressman Eric Swalwell released a statement Wednesday saying that this program "fails to consider regional differences in the cost of living, which disproportionately harms borrowers in different areas of the country." Going on to say that he'll work to correct this. He also says that Congress must tackle college affordability and debt long term.

Here is Swalwell's full statement:

"Over 40 million Americans are stuck in the financial quicksand that is student debt. Today's announcement of targeted relief from the Biden Administration will forgive $10,000 for student borrowers with an individual income under $125,000 or a household income of under $250,000 and $20,000 for borrowers who received Pell Grants. This action will help millions of borrowers who have delayed major life decisions, such as starting a family, buying a home, or opening a business. Today's announcement also includes important changes to student loan relief programs, including simplifying the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program and extending the student loan repayment pause for all federal borrowers through December 31, 2022, to help borrowers transition back to repayment. My office stands ready to assist borrowers who may be eligible for this benefit.

"While these steps will provide relief for millions of borrowers today, it fails to consider regional differences in the cost of living, which disproportionately harms borrowers in different areas of the country, including in my Bay Area Congressional District. I'll work to correct this. In addition, forgiveness today will not solve the student debt crisis of tomorrow. Congress must tackle college affordability and debt in the long-term. That includes drastically increasing Pell Grants, reforming our college accountability system to hold bad actors accountable, and eliminating federal interest for future borrowers (legislation I've already introduced). The government shouldn't profit off putting entire generations in debt."

Congresswoman Anna Eshoo issues this statement:

"Today President Biden fulfilled his campaign promise by canceling up to $20,000 in student loan debt for Pell Grant recipients and up to $10,000 in loan debt to non-Pell Grant recipients. He also capped interest and payment amounts and extended the pause on student loan payments through December 31, 2022," said Eshoo. "With this action, up to 43 million borrowers will receive relief and approximately 20 million people will see their loans fully canceled. Student loan debt in the U.S. outstrips credit card debt today and it's why this is a monumental step forward. These enormous financial burdens force too many young people to delay buying a home or starting a family. This is a Godsend to so many and a significant step in combatting the student debt crisis."

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