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Tuesday, July 23, 2024

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Gov. Whitmer endorses Kamala Harris for president, says she's not leaving Michigan; Grilled by lawmakers on the Trump assassination attempt, Secret Service director says, 'We failed;' Teachers rally at national convention in Houston; Opioid settlement fund fuels anti-addiction battle in Indiana; Nonprofit agency says corporate donations keep programs going.

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VA student borrowers affected by courts pausing SAVE program

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Friday, June 28, 2024   

Virginia student loan borrowers will feel the effects of federal courts blocking more student loan forgiveness.

The Biden administration forgave around $3.5 billion of the state's student loan debt, but borrowers will not see reduced payments on July 1, due to court injunctions which could upend the SAVE program. Student loan debt creates burdens whether the borrowers earn their degree or not.

Kelsey Coweger, press secretary for the advocacy group Progress Virginia, said the debts have tanked homeownership rates for younger generations.

"One of the criteria that you're gauged on is how much debt you have and the ability to pay those debts back," Coweger explained. "There is a whole generation of people who are losing these really critical wealth-building apparatuses that have been available to older generations, that will make things harder for them in the long run."

The average Virginia borrower's debt is just under $40,000 but the state's total student loan debt is $43 billion. Cowger feels student loan forgiveness has been misunderstood. She noted people using the program are not the ones attending expensive private colleges or getting what some see as "worthless" degrees.

Some blame students' inability to budget as a reason student loan debt has grown. But Cowger pointed out systemic changes have played a role, like states not funding public schools and universities the same way they used to. Now, most of a college's budget comes from tuition.

She argued the federal government could take different steps to help students graduate in a better financial position.

"The government could expand its access to Pell grants," Cowger suggested. "The government could stop taking interest on the student loans that it provides. You know, I don't know that the government should be in the business of making money off the backs of students trying to get an education."

Cowger added a federal regulatory framework could be established so student loans are not predatory. She thinks states funding public colleges should be seen as an investment in an educated workforce, with loans which can and will be repaid. One-third of federal student loan borrowers defaulted on their debt in the last 20 years.


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