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US president announces new student debt relief

By AFP

February 22, 2024 12:05 PM


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US President Joe Biden, elected in 2020 largely thanks to young voters, on Wednesday announced he was extending his student loan forgiveness program by canceling the loans of an additional 150,000 Americans.

"While a college degree is still a ticket to a better life, that ticket is too expensive," Biden said in a statement. "And too many Americans are still saddled with unsustainable debt in exchange for a college degree."

During his presidency, Biden has erased a total of $138 billion in federal student loans taken out by 3.9 million Americans to pay for a university education, according to a tally by his administration.

"I'm happy to have been able to forgive these loans because when we relieve Americans of their student debt, they're free to chase their dreams," Biden added.

Initially, the 81-year-old Democrat had bigger ambitions, planning to cancel several hundred billion dollars of debt for middle-class borrowers.

But the plan was struck down by the conservative-dominated Supreme Court, leaving the Biden administration to approve a handful of more modest measures as a workaround, the latest of which was announced Wednesday.

Under the new program, borrowers who have been repaying their student loans for 10 years and who borrowed $12,000 or less, will see their remaining debt cancelled.

The White House has calculated that the measure should cancel $1.2 billion in debt, and benefit 153,000 people, who will be notified of the good news by an email signed by the president.

Biden's campaign has been touting his largely robust economic and social gains to young Americans, but so far young voters have little enthusiasm for Biden's return to the White House as he prepares to take on the likely Republican candidate, former president Donald Trump.

After the new debt relief measure was announced, Biden's campaign shared a statement from Maxwell Frost, the first Generation Z member of US Congress.

"The President's actions on student debt are in stark contrast with Trump, who spent his entire time in office sabotaging efforts to aid borrowers who are just trying to make ends meet," said the 27-year-old congressman from Florida.

He added: "President Biden knows that canceling student debt is an important issue for young people across our country and that's why he's fighting to deliver on his promise of relief."

An opinion poll published Wednesday by Quinnipiac University has Biden and Trump running neck and neck with young Americans, with 47 percent of voters aged 18-34 planning to vote for Biden and 45 percent for Trump.

At the same time, asked about their views on the two presidential hopefuls, only 30 percent in that group had a favorable opinion of Biden, compared to 39 percent of Trump.


AFP


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