Republican governors ask Joe Biden to scrap student loan forgiveness in letter: NPR

Students walk to and from classes on the Indiana University campus on Thursday, October 14, 2021 in Bloomington, Indiana. Indiana will tax student debt relief as income, mirroring similar policies in other U.S. states following the Biden administration’s announcement of a forgiveness plan in August 2022.

Darron Cummings/AP


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Darron Cummings/AP


Students walk to and from classes on the Indiana University campus on Thursday, October 14, 2021 in Bloomington, Indiana. Indiana will tax student debt relief as income, mirroring similar policies in other U.S. states following the Biden administration’s announcement of a forgiveness plan in August 2022.

Darron Cummings/AP

Nearly half of the nation’s governors have signed a letter to President Joe Biden urging him to withdraw his student loan forgiveness plan, which would remove up to $20,000 for federal aid borrowers.

“As governors, we support making higher education more affordable and accessible for students in our states, but we fundamentally oppose your plan to force American taxpayers to pay off the student loan debt of a select few…” the governors said in a letter dated Monday.

The governors, all Republicans, argue that the lowest-income Americans will pay the debts of doctors, lawyers and professors “with the most debt, like $50,000 or more…”.

However, Biden’s plan caps the relief to $20,000 for those who received Pell scholarships — which are given to low-income students — and $10,000 for students who did not receive Pell scholarships in college. Additionally, individuals earning more than $125,000 are not eligible for the one-time relief.

“College may not be the right choice for every American, but for the students who took out loans, it was their choice: able adults and willing borrowers who knowingly agreed to the terms of the loan and to incur debt in exchange for borrowing classes have agreed,” the letter said. “An expensive degree isn’t the key to the American Dream—hard work and personal responsibility is.”

It is further argued that it is unfair to those who have previously paid off their student loans.

Governors also expressed concern that the forgiveness plan could encourage higher education institutions to ramp up their costs, thereby exacerbating inflation.

“Rather than address rising tuition fees for higher education or work towards lower student loan rates, your plan is bogging down and making today’s problems worse for tomorrow’s students.”

US Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona told NPR in August the forgiveness plan grew largely out of a way to reverse the adverse effects of the COVID-19 pandemic and will thereby boost the economy.

“Everyone knows someone who is struggling with the pandemic,” he said. “And you know, when we help people in the communities so that they’re – less likely to default, everyone wins. It helps the economy.”

The letter is signed by 22 Republican governors, including:

  • Kim Reynolds, Iowa
  • Doug Ducey, Arizona
  • Brian Kemp, Georgia
  • Mike Parson, Missouri
  • Chris Sununu, New Hampshire
  • Kevin Stitt, Oklahoma
  • Bill Lee, Tennessee
  • Mark Gordon, Wyoming
  • Kay Ivey, Alabama
  • Asa Hutchinson, Arkansas
  • Brad Little, Idaho
  • Greg Gianforte, Montana
  • Doug Burgum, North Dakota
  • Henry McMaster, South Carolina
  • Greg Abbott, Texas
  • Mike Dunleavy, Alaska
  • Ron DeSantis, Florida
  • Larry Hogan, Maryland
  • Peter Ricketts, Nebraska
  • Mike DeWine, Ohio
  • Kristi Noem, South Dakota
  • Spencer Cox, Utah

The governors are also questioning Biden’s power to enforce the plan, saying, “As president, you lack the authority to take unilateral action to initiate a sweeping plan to slash student loans.”

In seven states, the waiver payments could be taxed as income.

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