Student Loan Forgiveness: Does Utah Back Biden’s Plan?

In a state with the lowest average student debt and the lowest proportion of student debt, it follows that Utahns are averse to debt.

The results of a new Deseret News/Hinckley Institute of Politics poll regarding President Joe Biden’s student loan forgiveness plan reflect disapproval of the initiative.

The Biden administration’s remission plan will provide $10,000 in federal student loan debt relief for borrowers earning less than $125,000 and up to $20,000 for those who went to college on Pell grants .

Dan Jones & Associates conducted the survey of 815 registered Utah voters from September 3-21. It has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.43 percentage points.

Of those who participated in the survey, 57% disapproved of the plan, while 41% said they approved of it and 2% answered “don’t know”.

People who identified as Republicans, conservatives or active members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints had the highest disapproval ratings, according to poll results.

The highest approval ratings were among Utahns ages 18 to 24, with 53% saying they strongly or somewhat approved of the loan forgiveness plan. Democrats were at 81% and those who identify as very liberal at 87%.

Patrick Holman, who is about 20 credit hours away from earning his bachelor’s degree in English, is eligible for a $20,000 loan forgiveness under the Biden administration’s initiative.

“This loan forgiveness will clear 50% of my debt,” said Holman, a student at the University of Phoenix.

“I think I can take care of the other half. That’s a lot more manageable than $40,000 to $50,000 by the time I finish in 2023,” he said.

Holman began attending community college after high school, but her journey to earning a bachelor’s degree saw many ups and downs between going to school, taking time off for work, and often trying to balance the two. at the same time.

Once he was on his own, he didn’t earn enough at most jobs to cover his college expenses, so he took out loans.

He works 40 to 50 hours a week as a coordinator at the Central Park Community Center in South Salt Lake and attends college classes outside of work hours and on weekends.

He works with young people and often advises them on the importance of working hard in school and in higher education. Once graduated, he plans to continue working with young people.

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South Salt Lake City Central Park Community Center/PAL Boxing Coordinator Patrick Holman stands in the South Salt Lake Center Friday, Oct. 7, 2022. A new Dan Jones & Associates poll asked Utahns if they approved of the student of the Biden administration’s loan cancellation initiative. Holman is a student at the University of Phoenix who is eligible for aid.

Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News

Although he thinks the trip is worth it, it hasn’t been easy. Holman said he hopes that in addition to the pardon, Biden’s initiative will also be seen as an opportunity by public and private colleges and universities to deal with the rapidly rising cost of tuition, fees and books.

These costs are on top of the record high housing, grocery and transportation costs that all Americans are experiencing.

Holman said the loan forgiveness will make a “huge difference” for most eligible borrowers.

“What the Biden administration is doing is investing and putting everyday families and everyday Americans first,” he said.

According to the US Department of Education, nearly 90% of relief dollars will go to those earning less than $75,000 a year.

Recent ministry estimates indicate that student debt relief will cost an average of $30 billion per year over the next decade or $379 billion in today’s dollars over the next decade.

Biden administration officials say the debt relief package will help millions of Americans buy homes, save for retirement or start businesses by providing critical relief as they recover of the pandemic.

“Many of us took out loans because it was one of our only options. The skyrocketing cost of education over the past 20 years has affected people disproportionately and made higher education goals increasingly unattainable without loans,” Holman said.

But others, like Utah Governor Spencer Cox, are critical of the loan cancellation. In September, Cox and 21 other Republican governors called on Biden to immediately withdraw his student loan cancellation plan.

Cox, when asked to comment on Biden’s recent announcement that he had pardoned some 6,500 people convicted of “simple possession” of marijuana in the federal system, said it was akin to rescinding of a student loan because it does not take into account the checks and balances between the forms of government in the country. .

“Whether it’s transferring student loan debt to millions of other taxpayers or ignoring federal law enforcement, the President continues to disregard the checks and balances of our system. “, Cox said. “If you want to see change in our laws, do the hard work it takes to enact that change with Congress. But taking executive action like this just weeks before an election is nothing more than a desperate attempt to win votes. »

Sophomore Gaelen Kinkead sits next to her friend Ashlay Findley on the campus of the University of Utah in Salt Lake City.

Sophomore Gaelen Kinkead, right, sits next to her friend and fellow sophomore Ashlay Findley on the University of Utah campus in Salt Lake City on Monday, Sept. 19, 2022. In a state with the lowest average student debt and the proportion of students in debt, it follows that Utahns are debt averse. The results of a recent Dan Jones & Associates poll commissioned by Deseret News and the University of Utah’s Hinckley Institute of Politics regarding President Joe Biden’s student loan forgiveness plan reflect disapproval of the initiative.

Ben B. Braun, Deseret News

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