OP-ED: A Win for Student Loan Borrowers, and for Wisconsin

President Biden’s student loan forgiveness plan is a win that all Wisconsinites can celebrate. 

Student loan borrowers, who worked hard to get their education and took on the personal responsibility to pay for it, have been treated unfairly by the system for decades. Increasing tuition, underfunding financial aid for eligible students, rising interest rates and lack of consumer protections created a debt of nearly $2 trillion and a drag on the economic success of tens of millions of Americans.

Now, with the announcement that borrowers with annual incomes under $125,000 are eligible to have up to $10,000 of their federal student loans forgiven, their family budgets will get a well-earned boost and the Wisconsin economy will benefit.

It’s great timing, as Wisconsinites are working harder than ever but rising costs are making it difficult to get ahead, and wealthy corporations are taking advantage of predatory price gouging. And this student loan debt help can especially hit home for every Wisconsinite who didn’t have the benefit of coming from wealth, and BIPOC borrowers who have long suffered under the racial wealth gap that exists among people who took out loans to further their education.

Amid much public discussion on what is fair and what is not – what is undeniably unfair is that due to rising costs, many folks now owe significantly more than what they borrowed, even after paying their bill on time for years.

The irony is not lost on us that many of the conservative, wealthy lawmakers who have criticized President Biden’s student loan forgiveness plan are the same people who had most – if not all – of their PPP loans forgiven amid the COVID-19 pandemic. 

This student loan relief for more than 40 million Americans will bring us one step closer to an economy that works for everyone, instead of just for a wealthy few – and none of it would be possible without those who have been organizing around this issue for decades, and everyone who has shown out to the voting booth in search of making change.

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A Better Wisconsin Together is a state-based research and communications hub for progressives and is an affiliate of ProgressNow.