Written by Diamund
We are quickly approaching the 6th student debt moratorium deadline. A deadline that will lead to many students, grads, and other loan holders scrambling for lifelines they simply do not have. While some people have been able to get their student loans cancelled during this “pandemic pause,” most borrowers haven’t found relief through Biden’s selective cancellation.
A lot of borrowers are relying on President Joe Biden to stand by his promise and cancel $10,000 for each borrower. He has cancelled $25 million of student loans for 1.3 million Americans, out of the $1.7 trillion that is owed by roughly 44 million people in our country. While the amount of debt that President Biden has cancelled seems impressive, it makes only about a 1% dent in the staggering total of student debt owed in this country.
The question then becomes, “How do other borrowers deal with their loans?” While some students have great financial and academic advisors to guide them on new and impertinent information on paying back loans, or receiving a cancellation, other students are out of the loop and unaware of their options. It’s important to note that the U.S. Secretary of Education , Miguel Cardona (the person who decides what happens with federal money going towards education initiatives) has said there’s still a chance for the repayment moratorium to be extended after August 31st, but there are no guarantees. And these repayment moratoriums haven’t actually provided a permanent solution to this crisis – it has only prolonged it. With that being said, it’s also important to look at what options are available to people who haven’t had their loans cancelled yet.
We use the terminology “student debt cancellation,” but for the purposes of these listed government resources, you will see the language of “forgiveness” instead of “cancellation”. However, I want to reiterate that we do not believe student borrowers need, or should be, forgiven for anything. Seeing as we inherited a broken system that left little to no wiggle room for seeking higher educational opportunities if you are not wealthy, there is nothing for students to apologize for, or to be forgiven for. If anything, the education system should be asking for students’ forgiveness. The Department of Education should apologize to students for giving us a broken system that allows the most marginalized to fall through the cracks and be sucked into the dark pits of debt! They should apologize to us students who continually show up with our hopes and dreams, so that at the very least we too can be seen in a room dominated by educated people, only to be crushed by a lifetime of paying off loans. Because we know, without a degree, the opportunity for economic advancement is obsolete.
So without relief from the current administration, what options do borrowers have? The Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program, or PSLF, was established as a way to provide student debt relief for government and nonprofit workers. If a worker gave 10 years of their time to a job in either sector, then they would qualify for this loan “forgiveness” program. There have been stipulations for receiving this benefit, and right now some of those qualifications are being reduced until October 31st, 2022 to make it slightly easier to be eligible. But PSLF is only available to borrowers who are privileged and lucky enough to make on-time payments towards their loans, work full time for a qualifying employer, receive credit only through direct loans, and repay under the 10 year standard plan, or income-driven repayment plan. Not to mention, many people can’t afford to go into government or nonprofit jobs because they rarely adequately cover living expenses, which are only getting higher these days.
Thanks to a new waiver agreement, TEPSLF is extended to a wider circle of borrowers. Those whole qualify include:
- borrowers who made late payments at any point
- receive credit for periods of repayment on various loans
- make repayments through any plan
- are not working for a qualified employer during, or after, application process for “forgiveness”
- and those who qualify for Teacher Loan Forgiveness can now use that same period of service (as long as they were certified PSLF employed for that period) can qualify for this extension of “forgiveness”.
These are extensions that can help many people get their student loans dissolved, but it requires immediate action!
Unfortunately, even with these changes, there are still too many restrictions preventing borrowers from receiving their well-deserved debt cancellation. In order to receive the Temporary Expanded Public Service Loan Forgiveness program, or TEPSLF, you still need to be employed full time, make 120 qualifying payments, work for a 501 (c)(3), or government job, and more.
For the majority who do not meet the requirements, it’s important to keep speaking out, sharing your story, and getting activated to let President Biden know he must cancel all of our student debt burdens through executive action. Start planning a collective action to protest this debt and unaffordable higher education, or start figuring out how much you’ll owe when August 31st ends, and speak with your community on how to band together in supporting each other through the process. Not sure where to start or looking for a community to organize with? Join SF Rising’s student organizers as they continue to fight for student debt liberation by signing up to be a volunteer. We can’t let the system continue to eat us alive! The struggle will be hard, but it will never be impossible.
In the meantime, for those who already qualify for relief, this is an open chance to relieve a stressor if the repayment process does start back up on September 1st, 2022. Take any opportunity you can to strategize and plan ahead. How can you get the Department of Elections to dwindle or eliminate your student loans through existing programs? Take a look through this site and see what student loan relief or repayment plan best fits your situation.
Our fight to abolish student debt is an uphill battle, but we are ready and willing to fight!