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Campus community reacts to Biden administration’s push to forgive up to $10,000 in student loans

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On August 24, President Joe Biden announced a to plan to cancel up to $10,000 in student debt for many borrowers. The move was seen by some as a fulfilled promise from Biden’s campaign for the White House and sparked a national conversation about student debt, which affects more than 45 million Americans.

Frederick Wherry, professor of sociology at Princeton, who writing widely on the subject and runs an organization called Dignity & Debtwhich helps develop financial services for low-income households, commented on the impact the policy change could have on students at the University.

Compared to most colleges nationwide, few Princetonians take out student loans to cover their on-campus fees.

“If you go to a really rich university like [Princeton] …you’re probably fine. You’re going to be in debt, but it’s unlikely to be crushing debt,” Wherry said.

Since 2001, the University has ensured that financial aid programs include subsidies rather than loans. This means that the University has completely covered tuition, room and board for any student whose family income is less than $65,000. A new University policy announced earlier this month will extend this comprehensive aid policy to any student with a household income of less than $100,000 and will take effect next fall.

In effect, 83 percent of recent graduates graduated debt-free. The average indebtedness at graduation for borrowers in the class of 2021 was $10,300. Only three percent of university students take out federal student loans, well below the 31.8 percent students who take out nationwide loans in a single year.

Despite the fact that few Princeton students have significant personal student debt, the impact of the policy is already being felt on campus. Gabriel Robare ’24 told the “Prince” of the significant impact his mother’s student debt had on their family’s financial decisions.

Robare is a chief puzzle editor for the “Prince”.

“It was never something that was consciously discussed, but it was always something that I was aware of,” he said. “He pushed his way into the conversation.”

Her mother, Kym Persinger, is a public school teacher and, in an interview with the ‘Prince’, described her student debt as a ‘dark shadow’ that she’s been ‘trying to get out from under’ since graduating. his university degree nearly 25 years ago. years ago.

According to Persinger, she was never able to make progress on her major loans and was only able to continue paying interest on her debt, despite taking on extra jobs and lifestyle sacrifices.

His experience is not uncommon, according to assistant professor of sociology and public affairs Adam Goldstein.

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“Debt only becomes really real after [the students] quit college,” Goldstein said. “And at that point, that kind of forces you to consider some kind of future plans.”

Robare described the day he learned of Biden’s loan forgiveness policy.

“I got my financial aid for Princeton [for this year] …and we found out the same day my mother’s loans were canceled,” he said. “It was a very nice day.”

Persinger said it was like a “fairy tale finally coming true.”

Among the incoming class, opinions on debt forgiveness are largely favorable.

The recent “Prince” fresh survey of the class of 2026, conducted in July, before Biden’s announcement, revealed that 60 percent of first-year students rate proposals to cancel all student debt as ‘somewhat’ or ‘strongly’ favorable.

Beyond Princeton, Wherry said the impact of Biden’s policies will remove a significant barrier students face in earning a degree.

“If you’re not in that 10% of wealth, in terms of the college you attend, your debt is going to be much higher. And the lower the wealth, the higher the debt burden,” he said.

For Persinger, the removal of this burden is monumental.

“I am determined that my two children will graduate debt-free,” she said. “I never want them to feel that kind of burden that I have.”

Julian Hartman-Sigall is a news contributor for “Prince”. He can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter at @Julian_h_s.