Student leaders call for additional federal loan debt forgiveness

Madeline Duncan, Senior News Reporter

Student body representatives at UT are calling on President Joe Biden to cancel at least $50,000 in loan debt per student, after the president canceled up to $10,000 in loans per student and $20,000 per Pell Grant recipient this summer.

On Sep. 19, a coalition of 34 student leaders representing over 757,000 students from colleges across the country sent a letter to Biden urging him to cancel at least $50,000 in student loan debt. Kevin Roberts, UT student government speaker of the assembly, said the amount Biden canceled in August wasn’t enough. Roberts specifically highlighted that canceling additional student loan debt would promote educational equality for minority groups.

“This debt … affects various minority groups, LGBTQ students, Black students, Latinx students, and it hinders their progress and growth,” government senior Roberts said. “If we had expanded and canceled $50,000, we could close the racial wealth gap, expand educational opportunities and really set our economy up for the best in the future.”

Student government president Leland Murphy said increasing the amount of student loan debt forgiven is necessary to increase access to higher education.

“Education should never be something that has a lot of barriers,” government senior Murphy said. “Everyone should have access to education.”

The Student Debt Crisis Center, a nonprofit that supports borrowers and advocates for student loan change, joined the coalition to help craft the letter. Orlando Cavalo, the borrower outreach coordinator for the Student Debt Crisis Center, said the benefits of canceling student loan debt extend beyond the individual borrowers. 

“The average student loan borrower graduates in the U.S. with (an estimated $31,100) in student debt,” said Cavalo, a history senior at the University of California-Riverside. “To cancel the $50,000 at minimum, and at best canceling all student debt, would free people up in the sense (that) having their debts wiped out, they’d be able to spend more money on basic needs — food, housing — but also investing in themselves and in their communities.” 

Roberts said that SG also passed a resolution within their own entity in support of canceling $50,000 in student loan debt. Murphy said that canceling student loan debt would help students focus on their education because they would be less concerned about their financial situation.

“It would be a boon to students. It would help people be able to focus more on their education and not be worrying about debt,” Murphy said.