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Education Secretary Cardona meets with teachers and borrowers as he touts new student debt relief plan

By 37ci3 Apr9,2024

Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona He met with about half a dozen teachers and borrowers in New York on Monday. proposed federal student debt reduction plan it could benefit more than 30 million people.

This is the first direct attempt to bring back the revised version President Joe Biden’s student loan forgiveness programwhich Supreme Court was shot Last year it broke expectations Over 40 million eligible borrowers who could it be Loan up to $20,000 cancelled.

“We want to give debt relief to as many people as possible as quickly as possible,” Cardona said in an interview Monday after a meeting with teachers at United Federation of Teachers headquarters.

group photo smiling happy education secretary teachers
Education Secretary Miguel Cardona, center right, at a roundtable with teachers Monday in New York.Nicole Acevedo/NBC News

“So we’re thinking about it a lot,” said Cardona, one of Biden’s four Latino Cabinet members.

Cardona said his office and the Biden administration were meeting to work out the details of the new one proposed student debt reduction plan Considering the arguments of the judges who struck down the Supreme Court’s previous debt forgiveness program.

At the time, the court argued that Biden did not have the authority to implement a program that would cost more than $400 billion without congressional approval under the Student Aid Opportunity Act of 2003, abbreviated the HEROES Act.

A new plan would eliminate runaway interest rates for millions of borrowers, including more than 23 million low- and moderate-income borrowers. It would also cancel the debt of those who are not yet eligible for current forgiveness programs, including those in public service who have paid off their loans for 10 years or more, as well as borrowers who have begun paying off their student loans. loans two decades ago.

It will also help borrowers enrolled in low-cost programs and those who can detail financial difficulties that prevent them from repaying their loans, such as child care or medical expenses.

Cardona said he expects critics to push back.

“They will try to challenge us. Unfortunately, they are more concerned with saving face than helping their constituents. But we are determined,” said Cardona. “We believe that this is not a red or blue issue. This is a student issue. It’s about saving higher education and making sure the promise of opportunity is available to everyone.”

smile education secretary teachers be happy
Education Secretary Miguel Cardona at a roundtable with teachers in New York on Monday.Nicole Acevedo/NBC News

Student debt in the US has been rising steadily for over a decade. It reached 1.74 trillion dollars until September. About 43 million Americans have some form of student loan debt.

Almost 7 in 10 (67%) Latino student borrowers have student debtaccording to Education Information Initiative. 33 percent of Latino borrowers said they delayed marriage, and 37 percent said they delayed having children because of student debt.

Iolani Grullon, a kindergarten teacher in the predominantly Latino neighborhood of Washington Heights for 18 years, was one of several educators who met with Cardona. He earned his bachelor’s degree in 1995 and racked up $30,000 in student loans, but mounting interest caused his debt to double over the years.

After 15 years of struggling to pay off his debt, Grullon was eligible to apply Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program. He was rejected many times. But in January 2022, “when I finally saw my balance at zero,” Grullon learned he had been accepted.

The 50-year-old mother said the debt forgiveness allowed her to start saving to send her 16-year-old twin daughters to college in a few years.

Grullon said she has students whose parents are still in college, adding that being debt-free is a big deal for them because they have to juggle childcare costs in addition to work and education.

Brenda Poggio, an Ecuadorian-born former elementary school teacher who now works with the United Federation of Teachers, got debt relief four months ago under the same program as Grullon after being repeatedly rejected.

“It was an amazing feeling,” Poggio told Cardona at the meeting, adding that it was the first time retirement felt within his reach.

First-generation college graduates, many of whom are black and/or Latino, tend to earn less on average and accumulate less wealth than those whose parents have a bachelor’s degree or higher, making it harder for them to repay their loans, according to 2021 Pew Research Center analysis.

The Biden administration has already approved $146 billion in student debt relief for 4 million borrowers over the past three years under four existing debt relief programs: the Value Education Plan early forgiveness savings, the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program, the general and permanent disability discharge plan, and the Income-Based Repayment Plan .

“It’s more than any other administration, and we’re just getting warmed up,” Cardona said.

“I hope people understand that while the debt relief plan we put forward in the Supreme Court is a failure, we are not done fighting,” he said. “We’re bad. We know who we’re fighting for.”

As Biden runs for re-election against presumptive Republican nominee Donald Trump, his administration has deliberately pushed student debt relief efforts.

Cardona declined to speak directly about Biden’s re-election campaign, but said their current plan and ongoing efforts to eliminate student debt are what the Biden administration supports.

But This does not always resonate with some potential voters who say they are waiting for relief that has yet to happen.

A new proposed student loan plan is expected to go through a public comment period in the coming weeks, according to the U.S. Department of Education.

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