KANSAS CITY, Mo. – People who owe federal student loans express relief after President Joe Biden announced he would suspend repayments until May 1, 2022.
According to the US Department of Education, there is $ 1.6 trillion in federal student loan debt nationwide.
In a state-by-state breakdown, the agency reports 384,000 borrowers with $ 12.6 billion in federal student loans in Kansas. Meanwhile, Missouri has 834,000 borrowers with $ 29.6 billion in federal student loans.
Katie Camlin is among the Americans impacted by President Biden’s decision.
“I immediately sent a screenshot to my partner, and I was like thank goodness! I think he sent me as a gif of someone dancing after. We were very relieved, ”Camlin said.
Camlin said her total federal student debt is $ 26,000, which affects how she spends her income.
“I have the payment for my car, our rent and our food and a small fraction of the money for fun and that’s about it,” Camlin said. “I don’t travel. I don’t buy myself a ton of stuff. So it would be nice to be able to save more and hopefully buy a house, that’s probably what I would do if they were. canceled.
President Biden’s decision has met with mixed reactions. On Twitter, US Senator Bernie Sanders applauded the president’s decision, but called on Biden to write off student debt. However, US Senator Tom Cotton has argued that forgetting student loan debt is unfair to people who have paid off their debt or have never taken out a loan.
Camlin said she recognizes the responsibility of taking out her loans.
“It’s difficult because we have all accepted the loans. I signed up for this, ”Camlin said. “But, I really feel like when I was 18 I didn’t quite understand the scope of what it means to have several thousand dollars in debt, and so canceling it would be, I I would probably throw a party. That would be great.”
People struggling with thousands of student loan debts turned to Stephan Skepnek, an attorney with the Sader law firm in Kansas City, Missouri, for help.
“Nothing would make me happier than to see student debt disappear,” Skepnek said. “I can find another area of law to practice. “
Besides debt cancellation, the lawyer argues that there are realistic options the Biden administration should consider.
“Reduce interest on outstanding federal student loans, allowing the availability of more flexible restrictions on the cancellation of public service loans or allowing people to obtain additional relief from their student loan debt through the bankruptcy, ”Skepnek suggested.
Skepnek said there are many resources available to help those struggling with student debt, and that the Biden administration as well as the Department of Education should educate borrowers about repayment plans based on the loan. income.
Skepnek explained that under an income-based repayment plan, payments are allowed on federal student loans which allow borrowers to pay off a portion of their discretionary income.
President Biden’s ruling does not apply to private student loans.
“Private student loans don’t get borrowers out of default,” Skepnek said. “Federal law does not allow a borrower with private student loan debt to get out of default or renegotiate payment terms. It is entirely up to the lender.”
Skepnek said the bottom line is for people to educate themselves about student debt or any debt and understand the problem.