Arizona Democrats are calling for a celebration of the recent decision from President Biden to forgive $10,000 in student loan debt for working class families. The decision impacts a large percentage of Arizonans who still hold federal student loan debt, possibly cutting loans in half or forgiving them entirely. The pause on payments until the end of the year will also bring some relief to residents still struggling from 2 years of the COVID-19pandemic.
In the state, there are approximately 887,100 residents (about 12.4 percent of the state) have current student loan debt, with the average individual owing $35,396, according to the Education Data Initiative. Arizona sits 23rd nationally for average debt per individual, owing a cumulative $31.4 billion in student loan debt. The new measure by the Biden Administration will forgive federal student loan debt up to $10,000, with an additional $10,000 going to borrowers who received Pell Grants. This forgiveness will only apply to those earning less than $125,000, or $250,000 for married couples. According to the U.S. Department of Education, borrowers who owe $10,000 or less in student loans make up 33 percent of all borrowers in the state, however, income levels are not known thus the percentage of those borrowers who would be eligible is equally unknown at this time.
Some officials, like Cesar Aguilar, the executive director of the Arizona Students Association, say they would’ve liked to see Biden’s plan go further, but still describe this announcement as good news. As Aguilar told Axios, he hopes that this will set the stage for border moves in the future, “I’ve been organizing in the student movement for a very long time and I think this is a good first start,” he said. U.S. Senator Mark Kelly supports Biden’s plan, saying, “The reality is college costs too much, and the federal government should not be profiting off of young graduates.” Democratic Representatives Ruben Gallego and Raul Grijalva equally celebrated the measure, calling the executive action as the removal of “a massive burden off the backs of millions of borrowers, including so many Black, Latino, and first-gen college students,” Gallego said. Due to Republican backlash, Grijalva has taken to Twitter to point out the extreme double standard since the announcement. The GOP, he said, didn’t complain when President Donald Trump’s administration “handed out trillions in unpaid tax cuts to billionaires & wealthy corporations.” The GOP House Judiciary Committee Twitter tried cutting back, posting, “If you take out a loan, you pay it back. Period.” Gallego quickly responded with “Not if you’re Donald Trump, yet, you still support him.”