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U. community members weigh in on college debt, federal student loan forgiveness plan

While not all students experience college debt, some say student loan forgiveness is a great idea to help those who have to pay loans. – Photo by Rutgers.edu

In late August, President Joseph R. Biden Jr. announced a federal student loan forgiveness plan to help students and borrowers alike. Two students and a professor shared their thoughts on student debt and the approach to alleviating it.

Weeda Osman, a Rutgers Business School senior, said that while she has been able to attend the University on scholarships and financial aid money and is generally unaffected by the plan, she thinks it is a great idea to help others who have to pay student loans.

“I think it's very long-awaited,” she said. “(The plan) took a long time. But, I don't have any loans .... so it doesn't benefit nor disadvantage me since I've never taken out any loans.”

The Biden administration promised student debt relief during his campaign trail, and through the duration of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic where nearly 10 million Americans were without work due to business closures or loss of business entirely. 

“According to a Department of Education analysis, the typical undergraduate student with loans now graduates with nearly $25,000 in debt,” said the Biden administration in a statement released in August.

Additionally, The College Board released a study that found that four-year private and public colleges have increased significantly in price since the early 1990s, accounting for inflation.

Sunjay Iyer, a Rutgers Business School sophomore, said he thinks the rise in costs does not correlate with the quality of education he receives, and money should be allocated differently. He sees an internal problem with how schools distribute the students' tuition, he said.

“I think nowadays colleges are prioritizing money over students sometimes,” he said. “Because they put their money into programs such as sports and entertainment over certain necessities.”

Iyer also said he feels that he would not have a problem paying for his tuition if more of the money was being properly allocated toward his education instead of entertainment purposes.

Chris Young, an associate professor in the Department of Management and Global Business, said he received federal student loans during his undergraduate and graduate academic years. 

Young said he entered the military and used benefits he received to help pay off his student debt. 

“I do know people, particularly some inner city folks, who are friends of mine,” he said. “(Their) children are caught up in extremely egregious levels of debt, and it's hard to pay back, and they do all this work for nothing.”

Young also said that he expresses concern over whether politicians genuinely care about the policies they are implementing or if they are simply attempting to appease voters for reelection.

He said universities should be held accountable for their rising costs and something fundamentally has to change with our education system before we see sustainable growth and change.

Colleges should also be held accountable for their rising costs and something fundamentally has to change with our education system before we see sustainable growth and change, Young said.

“When I have a smart, young kid who's living in abject poverty, and they can't get to college or they have to take out hundreds of thousands of dollars (to go to) say Rutgers, $120,000 if they have no money over four years,” he said. “You're telling that kid, 'sorry, you can't go because you're not going to pay that off.'"


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