The University of Northern Colorado’s campus commons is seen on May 19, 2022, in Greeley. (Olivia Sun, The Colorado Sun via Report for America)

In a long-awaited announcement, President Joe Biden on Wednesday said his administration will cancel $10,000 in student loan debt for borrowers who make less than $125,000 a year, or $250,000 for taxpayers who file jointly. In addition, Biden said many students from low-income backgrounds will receive an additional $10,000 in relief.

The unprecedented maneuver by Biden should reach over 43 million borrowers and even wipe out loan repayments for some. But it likely won’t fix some of the larger issues surrounding student debt — namely the cost of college and the large amounts borrowed by some to foot the cost of college. Nationally, student debt has ballooned to over $1.7 trillion.

U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona said in a news release Wednesday that student loan debt has hindered many Americans’ ability to achieve their dreams — including buying a home, starting a business, or providing for a family. The department also announced other changes to make repaying loans easier.

“Getting an education should set us free; not strap us down,” Cardona said. “We’re delivering targeted relief that will help ensure borrowers are not placed in a worse position financially because of the pandemic, and restore trust in a system that should be creating opportunity, not a debt trap.”

Biden ran on canceling at least $10,000 in student loan debt and faced pressure from advocates to cancel much more. He repeatedly delayed a decision amid intense debates about whether debt cancellation would advance economic justice or disproportionately benefit higher-earning Americans during a time when the working class is struggling. 

The plan provides more help to the students who started with the least. About 27 million Pell Grant recipients should be eligible to receive up to $20,000 in loan forgiveness. Pell Grants cover a portion of college costs for students from low-income families, with the large majority of eligible students coming from households that earn less than $60,000 a year. 

Kyle Southern, The Institute for College Access and Success associate vice president of higher education quality, said there’s two sides to the announcement. It’s life changing, especially for borrowers from low-income backgrounds. But a larger conversation about student debt needs to happen, especially when it comes to which students leave college with debt.  

Read more at chalkbeat.org.

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Jason Gonzales, Chalkbeat Colorado

Twitter: @ByJasonGonzales