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VPM News asked and you answered: How would student-loan forgiveness affect your life?

Students walk through VCU's Monroe Park campus
Students walk through VCU's Monroe Park campus. Because of President Joe Biden's proposal to eliminate up to $20,000 of student debt for federal borrowers, about 400,000 Virginians could become debt-free. (File photo: Crixell Matthews/VPM News)

Under a new proposal from the White House, about 400,000 Virginians could become student-debt free. 

VPM News posed a question to the community last week: How would student–loan forgiveness affect your life?  

Dozens of people responded to our request online. Below are some of those responses. 

The following has been edited for length and clarity.

We had 4 children go through college on student loans. Each one paid them off from their post-college earnings. Each is contributing to society both through employment and community service. They did not expect "The Government" to relieve them of their responsibilities. I strongly feel the government has done a disservice to these folks in not "allowing" the benefit of accepting accountability for their decisions.

We’ve been able to pay off a lot with the 0% interest rates during COVID, but this $10,000 will get us even closer to paying it off and save our family money, allowing us to put money toward our retirement and our children’s college education — which will be enormously expensive by the time they enter college.

Student-loan forgiveness won't affect me because I finished paying off my loans about 10 years ago. Had this been implemented during the crash of '08, my life might have been markedly different because the amount of forgiveness is about equal to my undergraduate loans. I made a major decision that year, which was to defer and then ultimately decline admission to graduate school because I did not think at the time it was wise to take on additional debt when the economy/job market was as rough as it was ... . Had my loans been forgiven then, I would have pursued a master's program that would have resulted in a teaching job, which, according to my county's pay scale, would have me earning nearly 40% less than I do in my current profession. It's strange to think of debt forgiveness having a negative impact on someone's financial livelihood, but that would have been the case for me. That said, I am not opposed to providing debt forgiveness to federal borrowers; their circumstances are likely very dissimilar to my own.

I’m grateful for $10,000 in forgiveness, but it’s not a huge amount for my situation. I have about $160,000 in loans; my wife has about $60,000 ... . But between the legal challenges that are probably going to show up and the general lack of trust in how these loans have been administered, I’m not really holding out any hope that I’ll see any real relief before I make my 25 years of making payments toward my graduate degree. I also don’t see how any of this fixes the root cause of the issue, which is that the cost of higher education is outpacing inflation and there’s an overall decrease in funding for public schools at the state level.

The student-loan forgiveness would not help me. I’ve paid my loans off versus investing that money. It makes me a little upset; I wish I hadn’t paid them back because I’d be much richer than just having the $10,000 in my pocket. Right now, had I invested in the stock market with that $10,000, I’d probably have $20,000. So, in the end it helps me zero.

The student-loan forgiveness will be a huge boost for me. I currently make about 60% of the median area income, which means I do not qualify for rental assistance, but I do qualify for state programs for first-time home buyers. So, forgiving my student loan will really improve my credit worthiness, meaning that I will qualify for better home mortgage rates, and I can start saving a little more for that down payment. And while I love my landlord, I would really prefer to be a homeowner for my two kids and have a place for ourselves.

Adversely, as it is unfair! I saved from the first birthday of each of my three children for their college educations and the costs were 100% paid when they received degrees. It was not an easy task, but my wife and I made it happen with discipline. My children appreciated, so I agreed to match whatever they saved (with limits) for their children, which was done. Consequently, our four grandchildren also finished college debt free. This refund destroys incentive for paying one's own way.