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Five Americans on What Will $50,000 Federal Student Loan Forgiveness Mean to Them?

About 43 million Americans owe $1.5 trillion in federal student loans. which is a huge amount that has a broad economic impact

Student debt has been shown to hinder the growth of small businesses. Prevent young families from buying houses. late marriage and deter people from saving for retirement

The emotional impact is also diverse. A 2017 study found that students with debt were less likely to enter their desired careers. Instead, prioritize loan repayment. Adults report feeling depressed by the high rate of student loan debt. One survey found that 1 in 15 student loan borrowers reported that they thought of suicide because of their debt.

But what if it disappears entirely or at least partially?

President Joe Biden has pledged to cancel the $1

0,000 federal student debt in the campaign. Many of the party members wanted him to be more ambitious. In February, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer D.Y. and dozens of senators and House of Representatives called on Biden to clear $50,000 of federal student debt for all borrowers.

Biden said he did not believe he had the power to cancel the debt. in April His administration has asked the Department of Education to draft a memorandum on legal issues regarding debt cancellation. While student debt relief is likely to run out of his annual budget. Experts say that may be because he is awaiting reports. Not because the cancellation was unsuccessful. meanwhile Student debt continues to affect the lives of many people across the country.

NBC News talks to people across the country about canceling student debt they have. Below are some selected stories:

Steven Mewha

Steven Mewha, 36, grew up in a working-class Irish Scottish family in Philadelphia. and is currently a lawyer in Hawaii. His success story is an American classic. But it’s not without challenges—or debt.

He graduated from Temple University into recession with about $40,000 in debt.

“I want to have a better life. I want to rise from the working class,” Mewha said. “Of course, I can stay at home and not go to university, work $40,000 a year, but I want more.”

Steven Maewa.Courtesy Steven Mewha

“I got laid off from my first real job,” he said. He then got a job managing a movie theater. And the interest on his loan continued to rise. In addition to student loans He’s also in huge credit card debt. which he describes as He eventually decided to continue his education and enrolled in law school.

to do so He must have increased debt. Despite working through law school and going to public school. But he now owes about $190,000.

Now he works as a lawyer. but pays more than $1,200 a month on the loan Combined with the high cost of living in Hawaii. Buying a house and having kids just didn’t feel possible before 40.

“Forgiveness of $50,000 in student loan debt would give the economy a complete boost in hard-to-calculate ways,” he said. “I could really live it.

Jess Gawrych and Arielle Atherley

Jess Gawrych and Arielle Atherley, 28, met at Boston University and have been together ever since. after school They both completed their master’s degrees at George Washington University in Washington, D.C., where they now live and work.

when combined They have about $278,000 in student debt and about $900 in total monthly payments.

Both Gawrych and Atherley were first-generation college students from immigrant families. It’s so important to attend college that when they’re 18, they don’t need to think about how much it costs. Gawrych says she now views graduate school as a mistake.

Jess and ArielCourtesy of Jessica Gawrych

Gawrych said, “$10,000 doesn’t feel like a lot. “Especially due to the interest on some loans. which is almost without a trace.”

Atherley said sweeping away $100,000 would help. “Many things in common life that people need” such as marriage, home, children, with their loans patiently due to the pandemic. The couple can buy a car. which is something they cannot do with large monthly loan payments.

“I’m trying to manage my expectations. But being able to save even $100, $200, $300 a month will make a huge difference in the long run.”

Gladys Villegas-Ocampo

“I won’t even begin to explain how grateful I would be if my debt was forgiven,” said Gladys Villegas-Ocampo of Florida.

Villegas-Ocampo, 39, was born in Ecuador and came to the United States as a child. Said when the bill came every month Whether it’s a car, rent, loan, insurance, you have to choose how to pay.

Gladys Villegas-OcampoCourtesy Gladys Villegas-Ocampo

She originally enrolled in college after high school. But was unable to complete her degree because she wanted to work.

“I have lupus. I have to see the doctor almost every week. Those payments are increasing,” Vilegas-Ocampo said.

This year, another married mother will graduate after returning to complete her degree. Hoping that she could get a higher paying job to support her family. She will graduate with more than $50,000 in federal student loan debt and $336 monthly payments.

“Sometimes I feel really guilty,” she said of her decision to go back to school. “I was under a lot of pressure to find a high paying job to justify the decision.”

She said getting the job “It’s not waiting to be able to buy the things I want.”

“I had to find a job so I could have enough money to pay off the loan.”

Alicia Corby

Alicia Corby, 38, put in more than $225,000 in federal student loans to attend law school. Her current balance is around $350,000.

Alicia Corby.Larissa Block

“I owe about $40,000 a year in interest,” said Corby of California. Her original loan interest rate was between 7 and 13 percent. She put them together. And now they’re between 6 and 8 percent. Still, it’s “nearly impossible to pay the principal unless you’re making a huge amount of money.”

Corby, a mother of three, quit her job to look after her children. She succumbed to her loans. but after the extension of time She had to go back to work.

For her, “$10,000 is nothing,” but $50,000 forgiveness will put her in a better position. Although there is still much interest, she said.

If the government really wants to help alleviate the crisis It had to do something about interest rates and allow tax deduction for payments on principal and interest, she said.

“This is not a private lender. This is the federal government – ​​and interest rates are predatory,” she said.

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