TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — On Wednesday, millions of Americans learned that a large portion of their student loan debt will be forgiven.
President Joe Biden announced a new student loan forgiveness program for borrowers who earn less than $125,000 annually.
Pell Grant recipients will be eligible for $20,000 in debt forgiveness. Borrowers who didn’t receive Pell Grants will qualify for $10,000 in relief.
“Education is a ticket to a better life, but over time that ticket has become too expensive for too many Americans,” Biden said during a speech from the White House. “All this means that an entire generation is now saddled with unsustainable debt in exchange for an attempt, at least, at a college degree. The burden is so heavy that even if you graduate you may not have access to the middle-class life that the college degree once provided.”
Under the new plan, borrowers with undergraduate loans can cap repayment at 5% of their monthly income.
According to the Federal Reserve, 43 million borrowers in the U.S. owe a collective $1.6 trillion in federal student loan debt.
In Florida, the U.S. Department of Education reports that as of March, the state’s 2.6 million student borrowers have a collective $102.1 billion in education debt.
Many who are struggling with debt are excited by the president’s plan for relief.
“I would greatly appreciate that,” Brianna Davies, a student at University of Tampa told 8 On Your Side.
Others are skeptical about the new program.
“The first thing I think about is actually the unintended consequences that may come along with this type of debt forgiveness,” economist Abby Blanco said.
“When you have people that maybe paid off their loans or people who didn’t go to college because of the expense, now, suddenly they’re being placed on the hood for other people’s decision,” she added.
Republican lawmakers are critical of Biden’s plan. Florida Sen. Marco Rubio called it an “unfair burden.”
“Forgiving student loan debt isn’t free. It means 85% of Americans with no undergraduate debt from college will be carrying the burden for those that do,” Rubio said.