Last Wednesday, the White House announced its plan to cancel up to $20,000 in federal student loans. Individuals earning less than $125,000, or $250,000 for married couples, will be eligible to apply for relief because the plan is targeted toward people with lower or middle incomes.
The Editorial Board commends the Biden administration for beginning to follow through with its campaign promise, even though Biden’s presidential campaign promised full student loan debt forgiveness for those earning less than $125,000. We acknowledge that this is only the first step toward college accessibility in a country where tuition rates are increasing and college enrollment is decreasing.
Forgiveness is only applicable to loans taken out before June 30, so any loan dispersed past that date will not be eligible for relief. While the White House is also planning to cut monthly undergraduate loan payments in half and mend the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program, current and future students will need student loan relief, too, if college is not made more affordable.
The Editorial Board urges both the federal and Pennsylvania state government to increase state funding for public colleges to increase accessibility to higher education for everyone.
Since 1980, the cost of four-year colleges has nearly tripled, but federal loan support has remained stagnant, making college increasingly less affordable to low- and middle-income people and contributing to a drop in enrollment, according to a 2021 report by College Board.
Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic in the spring 2020, nationwide undergraduate enrollment decreased by 9.4 percent. Additionally, Temple projected undergraduate enrollment will decrease by 1,500 students in 2022-23 fiscal year. The university partly attributes the recent 3.9 percent tuition hike to the decrease in enrollment, as Temple’s revenue is expected to decrease by $11.2 million.
However, funding from the Pennsylvania state government has remained the same since the 2019-2020 fiscal year at $158.2 million.
Temple University President Jason Wingard urged the government to make college more affordable with more funding for college to remain a relevant part of young Americans’ lives.
Although the new student loan forgiveness plan is a good first step, increased funding is necessary to allow everyone to receive higher education.