President Biden recently announced that his administration will forgive $10,000 of student loan debt for low- and middle-class borrowers. Borrowers who received Pell Grants will be eligible for forgiveness of up to $20,000. Forgiveness will be limited to borrowers who earn less than $125,000 a year, and nearly 90% of the relief goes to borrowers who make less than $75,000 a year.
The announcement means that up to 43 million borrowers will benefit from forgiveness, with 20 million borrowers having their full remaining balance canceled. This will cut monthly payments in half for undergraduate loans.
Among the many Americans who will benefit from this move are union members. We talked to several union members who will benefit directly from Biden's plan. Here are their stories:
Laura Morand, AFSCME Local 2627: Morand is an IT professional for the New York City Fire Department. Morand took loans out to get herself through college and to ensure her kids had an opportunity to pursue an education. At one point, she had $305,000 in debt and saw no light at the end of the tunnel.
Through the Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) program, Morand saw nearly $200,000 in student loan debt wiped away. “Ten years ago, it was very difficult,” Morand said. “When I was raising my kids, I didn’t see the light at the end of the tunnel. Now, we’re able to have more freedom and be comfortable. All those years of suffering seem to be paying off. I feel almost 200,000 pounds lighter.”
Aaron Crane, AFSCME Local 2773: Crane works for the Parks and Recreation Department with the city of Avon, Ohio. He had nearly $40,000 in student loans, a financial burden that limited many opportunities for his family. He had his entire balance wiped away through the PSLF. “Having my loans forgiven means that such a huge burden has been lifted from my family,” Crane said. “It’s like this elephant in the room when we used to do our finances, but now it's like we have so many more opportunities and ways to care and support our family.”
Mistie Ryan, American Federation of Teachers (AFT) Local 1465: Ryan shared that when she “woke up to this...it was like winning the lotto. Such a relief. I've been turning in the exact same documents yearly, the only difference is the settlement. I'm so thankful to Randi and our union for fighting for this.”
Kelly Crone, United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) Local 27: Crone, who currently works as a call center representative at a local credit union in western Maryland, has been a UFCW member for 17 years. She currently serves as a shop steward and participated in UFCW’s free college program. Her family took out about $25,000 in student loans when her son attended West Virginia University, where he graduated in 2018. “We only had a short period of paying on them before they got deferred because of COVID, but even having a relatively small amount—it was still $260 a month,” Crone said. “That’s a car payment, that’s half of some people’s rent, that’s a lot of money to have to budget out. I have another daughter, so I’ve always been stressed about—are we going to have these paid off in time for her to go to school to be able to get her a college education? Now that they’re doing the debt forgiveness, that’s going to help us out greatly. It won’t pay them off, but we’ll have a small balance once we find how much we qualify for. And that’s going to be so beneficial for my son. He’s now at the point where’s he ready to settle down and buy a house, and this student debt forgiveness will help him continue on with his life.”