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Nearly 1.1 million New Jersey residents could benefit from President Joe Biden’s plan to forgive up to $20,000 in student loans, new White House statistics show.
Figures released Tuesday showed that 1,082,900 state residents could take advantage of the program announced last month, with more than half, 590,300, receiving up to $20,000 in loan forgiveness since they receive Pell Grants, given to lower-income college students.
The remaining 492,600 individuals will be eligible for up to $10,000 in relief. Those earning up to $125,000, or $250,000 for households, can obtain the loan forgiveness.
“We’re talking about over a million New Jerseyans who the burden will be lifted on them,” said U.S. Sen. Robert Menendez, a strong voice in Congress urging Biden to cancel some of the debt. “That would allow them to maybe start a new business that they couldn’t before, maybe buy their first home that they couldn’t before, maybe start a family that they delayed. This is going to be an enormous economic engine in our state as well as a benefit to those individuals.”
New Jerseyans owe $43 billion in student loans, the U.S. Education Department said.
Erasing at least some of the student loan debt has been a top priority of progressives.
U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., said on a conference call with reporters that 90% of those who can take advantage of the debt relief make less than $75,000 a year.
“It may be hard to see how soul crushing this debt can be,” Warren said. “People are frightened about what it means for their futures and ashamed of what it says about their pasts.”
On the call, Biden administration officials said millions of low- and middle-income borrowers have been unable to pay back their loans. Some individuals now owe more than they originally borrowed, while others were left with plenty of debt but no diploma.
U.S. Education Undersecretary James Kvaal said that while ”college is supposed to help people up the economic ladder,” student loan debt “has become an anchor.”
Eligible borrowers have until Dec. 31, a day before loan payments resume, to sign up. For more information, go to https://studentaid.gov/debt-relief-announcement.
It’s still too early to sign up, but to be notified when applications are available, go to https://www.ed.gov/subscriptions.
Menendez said he hoped Biden would offer even more loan forgiveness going forward.
“I’d like to see more,” the senator said. ”It will have an economic ripple effect that will more than pay back whatever’s given away.”
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Jonathan D. Salant may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him at @JDSalant.
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