Washington, Aug 24 (EFE).- President Joe Biden on Wednesday announced that he will forgive part of the debt that millions of university students incurred with the US government to be able to pay for their studies in what appeared to critics to be a move to attract the votes of young people for Democratic candidates in the November mid-term elections.
The announcement comes after months of debate within the Biden administration and after, in 2020, student debt payments were suspended as a means of alleviating the financial burdens imposed on millions by the coronavirus pandemic.
“In keeping with my campaign promise, my Administration is announcing a plan to give working and middle class families breathing room as they prepare to resume federal student loan payments in January 2023,” Biden wrote on his Twitter account.
Specifically, the president said that $10,000 in student debt would be canceled for each student, but that measure will only benefit those who are earning less than $125,000 per year or who are married with household income under $250,000 per year.
In an attempt to help lower-income students, Biden also said the $20,000 in student debt incurred by recipients of so-called Pell Grants will be canceled, thus benefiting a large number of Hispanic and black students with lower incomes.
In addition, the president also extended the program created by his predecessor, Donald Trump, at the start of the pandemic to pause student debt repayments.
Biden said that the payments will remain suspended until Dec. 31, but he warned that this would be the last time that the suspension would be extended.
In that regard, in a statement, the Department of Education asked Americans with outstanding student debt to prepare themselves to be able to handle the debt payments when they resume at the start of the new year.
A group of Democratic senators and organizations representing racial minorities have spend months pressuring Biden to forgive all student loan debt, or at least a portion of it.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and progressive Democratic Sen. Elizabeth Warren released a joint statement praising Biden’s decision and noting that no US president has ever done so much to alleviate the debt burden on so many college students.
Despite the congratulations, both Schumer and Warren had asked Biden to forgive more than $10,000 in debt per student, given that in some cases an individual’s debt balance is over $100,000, or even $200,000.
Meanwhile, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), the main US group defending African Americans, said that the announcement doesn’t go far enough and noted that the black community has been disproportionately affected by the student debt problem.