President Biden’s loan forgiveness plan: FGCU’s thoughts on it

Grace Markell, Staff Writer

On Aug. 24, it was announced that the Biden administration has proposed a plan that intends to cancel student loan debt up to $10,000 for qualifying students and $20,000 for Pell Grant recipients.  

The plan was announced in tandem with an extension of the student loan payment pause to Dec. 31, 2022, all in an effort to provide financial support to those affected by COVID-19.  

“When I started [teaching], higher education was state-funded and now what we have is state-supported, and there is a big difference. When I started, the taxpayers assumed almost all of the cost of higher education,” Dr. Peter Bergerson, an FGCU political science professor, said.  

As a five-decade educator, Dr. Bergerson elaborated more on his opinion from his experience in the education system. 

“As more people went to school, the cost went up to what we know now, and subsequently, the role of the state government in providing financial assistance has diminished significantly. Now, students and families have to bear a much greater responsibility, so I see this from that context, both historical and a sociological economic relationship, so in that sense, I would support the idea of forgiveness,” Dr. Bergerson said. 

The announcement was met with a variety of differing opinions regarding the justification and fairness of this proposed plan. 

“I think it’s unfair to those who have already paid off or still finishing up their student loans. I am eligible, but I don’t intend to apply because I know what I would be getting myself into,” Junior Angeline Gentzen said. 

When asked what she believes would be the consequence of receiving loan forgiveness, Gentzen adds, “I have an old-school mentality. I think it shows weakness if I use this loan forgiveness to pay off the loans that I knowingly signed up for.” 

When discussing the plan with Dr. Bergerson, he also noted the lack of real information that has been released on the actual logistics of the plan.  

“It’s also important to keep in mind that this is President Biden’s policy and we have not seen the details of the program. The old adage is that ‘the devil is in the details,’ and here, the specifics of how it is going to work and what are going to be the actual forgiveness policies and programs are still being worked out, so we have the big picture but not the actual specifics of it,” Dr. Bergerson said. 

Sophomore Payge Kessler supports the loan forgiveness plan.  

“I think the plan is both good and bad. I can see the negatives with how much debt we are in as a country, but as a college student who is relying on loans to pay for school, I think it’s a good idea,” Kessler said. “It’s going to help a lot of college students to get started on their careers and not have to pay for loans until they are 50. Personally, it will cut my loans in half.”

Kessler further includes, “to my understanding, the benefits of loan forgiveness for students in debt is greater than any possible consequences.” 

With students coming from varying backgrounds, political beliefs, and economic situations, the stance on Biden’s plan to forgive student loans is no doubt controversial. With only the announcement of the plan released at the moment, both students and staff at FGCU will be eagerly waiting for further information released on the policy.