NewsMontana Politics


Daines and Tester react to student loan forgiveness plan

U.S. Senators Steve Daines and Jon Tester
Posted at 1:55 PM, Aug 24, 2022
and last updated 2022-08-25 11:08:44-04

President Joe Biden announced on Wednesday, August 24, 2022, that his administration will forgive up to $20,000 worth of student loan debt for certain borrowers.

Who is eligible?
The Department of Education said it will cancel student loan debt for individuals who make under $125,000 and married couples who make under $250,000.

Borrowers who received a Pell Grant in college are eligible for up to $20,000 in debt cancellation. People who didn't receive a Pell Grant are eligible for up to $10,000 in student loan forgiveness.

The Department of Education said it will provide an application in the coming weeks so people can claim the relief. It added that nearly 8 million borrowers may be eligible to receive relief automatically because of information already available to the department.

Future repayment plan changes
The Department of Education is also initiating a new rule that it says will lower future monthly payments.

"It would cut in half—from 10% to 5% of discretionary income—the amount that borrowers have to pay each month on their undergraduate loans, while borrowers with both undergraduate and graduate loans will pay a weighted average rate," the department said.

Loans would also be forgiven after a borrower has paid for ten years. The current rule allows loans to be forgiven after 20 years. The new rule would also cover unpaid monthly interest, the department said.

Pandemic repayment pause
President Biden extended the repayment pause that was initiated at the beginning of the pandemic. The pause will now expire on December 31, 2022. Biden said that will be the final extension of the pause.

Despite the apparent excitement of potentially getting student loan debt canceled, not everyone was happy.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell called Biden's plan unfair.

"President Biden's student loan socialism is a slap in the face to every family who sacrificed to save for college, every graduate who paid their debt, and every American who chose a certain career path or volunteered to serve in our Armed Forces in order to avoid taking on debt," he said.

McConnell also claimed the plan would make inflation worse.

Approximately 43 million Americans have federal student loan debt, which totals $1.6 trillion.

MTN News contacted Montana's two U.S. Senators for their reaction to the news.

Steven Daines (R) said:

I think it's a terrible idea. I think about how many hardworking Montanans might have had a student loan and worked hard to pay it off. And now they're going to forgive the student loans. I had a student loan when I graduated from Montana State University. And I worked hard and got it paid off. What's going to happen here is they're transferring that debt from students, oftentimes graduate students, now it's going to shift to the taxpayers and hardworking Montanans. I think it's wrong. It's a bad idea, and I hope we can stop it.

A spokesperson for Jon Tester (D) released the following statement:

Senator Tester understands that students and young people across Montana are facing real challenges due to the high costs of student loans. He believes solutions should be focused on addressing the underlying challenges of college affordability, which is why he opposed proposals from members of his own party to forgive all student-loan debt wholesale. Senator Tester is reviewing today’s narrow decision to assess its impact on Montanans, and he will continue fighting to make sure all Montana students have access to an affordable, quality education that will help them invest in their futures and grow our economy.

It's still unclear how the plan will be implemented. Biden is expected to make a formal announcement later on Wednesday.