Education debt cancellation and reforms a step toward a more equitable Ohio
Posted August 24, 2022 in Press Releases
President Biden has announced executive action to cancel some education debt and make other changes to federal loan programs. Policy Matters Ohio Executive Director Hannah Halbert released the following statement:
Ohioans know that higher education can open doors and help make possible a better future — not only for students, but for their families, communities, and our economy as a whole. But for too long, leaders in Ohio and nationally have chosen to systematically underfund public higher education, enact exploitative lending practices, and push policies that make good jobs harder to find, even for those who earn a degree. Policymakers’ reliance on debt to fund higher education has trapped many Americans in a cycle of debt that seems inescapable. Today’s action by the Biden administration, responding to years of borrower advocacy and calls for change, entirely relieves that burden for many Ohioans and eases it for others.
The debt relief package will change lives. By canceling up to $10,000 in education debt for borrowers who are paid less than $125,000 annually and up to $20,000 for those who received grants through the Federal Pell Grant program, this could eliminate education debt for hundreds of thousands of Ohioans, and reduce it by a large percentage for many more. Other changes to federal loan program rules will likewise make education debt more manageable for those who continue to carry it. These changes are a significant step toward repairing years of failed post-secondary education funding and financing policies.
While some will try to shift the blame for this crisis to individual borrowers and call on outdated and race-coded tropes about irresponsible and undeserving students, pitting those with debt and those without it against each other, it’s clear that the truly poor decisions were made by leaders who chose to retreat on public support for education — even in the face of a growing national need for a workforce with advanced skills and training. Increased post-secondary education, whether that is a bachelor’s degree, a vocational degree, or a registered union apprenticeship, is good for individuals and good for Ohio. Our policy choices should recognize this fact.
This action by the Biden administration appears carefully targeted, and as such it is complex. It does not solve the education debt crisis, nor does it significantly reduce the cost of college. That is going to require more resources, raised by making sure the wealthy and corporations pay what they truly owe, and more commitment from leaders and those who push them — ceaselessly and tirelessly — to create an Ohio where all of us can thrive.