The White House places the cumulative student loan debt at $1.6 trillion. An analysis of the three-part Biden loan plan by the University of Pennsylvania’s Penn Wharton Budget Model pegs the cost at $519 billion with 75% of the benefit falling to households making $88,000 or less per year.
The impacted Americans include many older people: More than 3.5 million are over age 60. Georgia is among the states with high numbers of borrowers. Federal Reserve 2021 data shows more than 1.6 million Georgians hold student loans. Those Georgia borrowers carry the third-highest average loan balance in the country, $41,600, after Washington, D.C., and Maryland, according to the Education Data Initiative.
The U.S. Department of Education will provide up to $20,000 in debt cancellation to Pell Grant recipients, who, as students, came from low-income households. Two-thirds of Pell recipients come from families that earn less than $30,000 per year. Non-Pell borrowers can get up to $10,000 in debt cancellation. Borrowers are eligible only if their individual income is less than $125,000.
The reaction to the college loan cancellations has featured lots of hypocrisy, especially by Georgia politicians who took taxpayer money during the COVID-19 pandemic. Among them are U.S. Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, whose family construction business, Taylor Commercial, had $183,504 in Paycheck Protection Program loans forgiven. Yet, she blasted debt relief for education loans.
So, too, did U.S. Rep. Andrew Clyde, who called Biden’s student loan bailout “highway robbery.” In an email to constituents, Clyde said: “Why should a poultry farmer in Gainesville pay for a Gender Studies degree from Berkeley? In what world is it acceptable to require an elementary school teacher in Ellijay to pay off the student loan debt of an unemployed graduate in Portland?”
Clyde was the recipient of forgiveness of PPP loans worth $154,950 that his gun store, Clyde Armory, received. U.S. Senate candidate Herschel Walker criticized the student loan forgiveness plan even while taxpayers underwrote $182,800 in PPP loan forgiveness for his poultry business.
There is a lot of debate among economists on the viability of the Biden plan. However, there is no debate on the need for more educated workers.
“Georgia, along with the rest of the South and the nation, need more students to enter — and graduate — across postsecondary education,” said Stephen Pruitt, president of the nonpartisan Southern Regional Education Board in Atlanta. “More specific to the workforce, we need more students from families with limited income to succeed in various types of college. The present and future workplace is demanding that more people have advanced career training and two- and four-year degrees. We need more folks in Georgia ready for the current high-demand and the high-skill career fields of the future.”