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Progressives demand Biden erase student debt so they can go back to school; say marriage, kids are 'luxuries' they can't afford without gov't help

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Paul Morigi/Getty Images for We The 45 Million

While on the campaign trail last year, President Joe Biden made a promise to cancel $10,000 in federal student loan debt. At the time, the front-runner was just trying to keep pace with a Democratic primary field that treated billions of dollars like monopoly money.

Nonetheless, many hopeful progressives believed the Democratic president would indeed erase the debt by executive fiat within his first 100 days. But that time period came and went and only a handful of Americans experienced any debt relief.

Now some progressive Americans are reminding him that they haven't forgotten.

In a BuzzFeed News article published Tuesday, 35 readers provided feedback to a public response form about what $10,000 in student loan debt forgiveness would mean for them. Some of the results were shocking.

A surprising number of responders lamented the burden that taking out loans for school has laid on them — while simultaneously pledging to return to school if the debt is forgiven (emphasis added):

  • "Anything knocked off is welcome. I have about $8,000 I am in default on, so this for me would mean receiving a tax return and the capability to go back to school and get my next degree. I would be very thankful and grateful."
  • "I'd be able to go back to grad school, get a higher-paying job, and start saving up money for a house or land. With $10,000 forgiven, I wouldn't be putting half of my paycheck into debt each month and would meet all my other financial goals so much faster."
  • "I owe about $50,000... I want to be able to work around the globe and with a doctorate in international comparative information, I'll have the credentials to assist communities and work with others to help all students achieve their maximum potential. [But] I have extreme anxiety about getting my doctorate because I already owe so much money."

Most spoke of debt forgiveness without any mention of the potentially negative consequences large-scale debt cancellation could have.

One responder claimed that homeownership, marriage, and children were unaffordable "luxuries" given their debt situation despite the fact that marriage is proven to be an economically advantageous decision (emphasis added):

  • "I owe about $90K for an undergraduate degree and work in public education. With what I make, I'll basically never get this paid off. I'm almost 35 and have accepted that things like homeownership, marriage, and children aren't in the cards for me. They are luxuries I literally can't afford. $10K would mean I *might* see my debt to income ratio even out enough before my 10-year-old Chevy with 130K miles on it kicks the bucket. That's it. That's my dream now. Not vacations, family, etc. Just a reliable, mid-priced sedan."

Others spoke in nihilistic terms (emphasis added):

  • "Because of grad school, I'll probably most likely be dead before my loans are paid off. $10K is nothing. I'm 44. They are not getting paid off anytime soon, and the promise of higher income with an MBA never materialized."
  • "I have $180K in loans, and I don't think I'll ever get out of debt. I make a good living, but, due to my debt, I live paycheck to paycheck and still have to borrow from my parents, and I'm 37. I feel like the only way out of this is full student loan debt forgiveness or getting hit by a bus."

Another responder blamed her debt situation on being part of a minority class.

  • "I am Latina and ... I attended one of the colleges involved in the college admissions scandal. When I read how much these wealthy families paid to get their children into the school, my blood boiled. It is not fair that I had to drown myself in debt to get half as far as individuals who are privileged."

One responder did make the political point that, as a voter, she should expect politicians to come through on their lofty promises at least some of the time.

  • "It would mean a modicum of trust [for] the officials I elected. Every election season, we vote on the premise of promises and daring declarations. Every post-election season, we watch those dreams defer. I have lost trust. I'd like a little of that back."

It is estimated that more than 40 million Americans have federal student loan debt totaling more than $1.7 trillion.

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