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JACL Responds to Biden Student Debt Cancellation

Earlier today, President Biden announced his much-awaited student debt cancellation plan. This plan includes $10,000 in individual debt relief for non-Pell Grant recipients and $20,000 for Pell Grant recipients if the individual makes under $125,000 a year. Families can receive the same debt relief if they make under $250,000 a year. It was also announced that student loan repayments would be paused a final time, through December 31, 2022. As well as anyone with undergraduate loans could cap their repayment plan to 5% of their monthly income.

We have known for years that student debt has negatively impacted borrowers of color, making it harder for them to make ends meet, let alone try to take out further loans to buy homes or start businesses. All of which deprive them of further economic opportunities. As such, today’s announcement is a welcomed step but leaves much to be desired.

As the price of schooling has increased over the last few decades alone, it’s left borrowers with increasingly larger loans and causing them to spend longer to repay them. While $10,000 is no small sum, it, unfortunately, may not make as big an impact as the administration had hoped. We also need to look at the process by which students can apply and file for their debt cancellation. It must be a simple and easy process that puts less strain on borrowers. We look forward to more information in the coming days but hope that some changes can still be made to benefit more students and more borrowers who desperately need relief.

JACL Executive Director, David Inoue, issued the following statement: “This is a great first step, but leaves many of those who most need the assistance, including many first-generation immigrant students, without benefit. The skyrocketing cost of higher education means many students are saddled with debt that far exceeds the assistance provided by today's announcement. It is a very welcome relief for anyone with student loans, but not nearly enough."


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