The Democratic Party and the Biden Administration are markedly more soft-spoken than their immediate predecessor, and there has been little vocalization (let alone action) of the sweeping reforms promised on the campaign trail. This has been much to the chagrin of those who hoped for “the most progressive administration in American history,” as Joe Biden himself proclaimed while on campaign during the primaries. While there has been the withdrawal from Afghanistan, and minor administrative changes on the homefront, there has been very little substantive domestic policy change.
That was until Aug. 24, when Biden announced an Executive Order that would, in effect: forgive up to $20,000 of student loans, restructure repayment options, continue the repayment moratorium until January 2023, and create policies that would hold university administrators accountable for managing career expectations and raising the cost of tuition. This comes after months of deliberation on the topic, and only after it became clear that Democratic colleagues could not, or would not, push for a Student Loan Forgiveness Bill in Congress.
It is important to note that more progressive partisans of the president’s party, such as Sen. Bernie Sanders, called for debt relief of 100%, a far cry from the $20,000. But what do these angelic messages from on high mean to the common UNCG student? Simply put, the way forward is unclear. While Biden’s promises are titillating, it remains to be seen if their implementation will be successful. If all things go according to plan, the Department of Education is prepared to begin forgiving loans within a few months. This process will either be done automatically, if the Department has the necessary income information, or by an application process. According to the Biden Administration this push was done for myriad reasons including to lift the middle class from the quagmire it has been in for the past decade, as well as to decrease racial disparities in wealth.
It is also no coincidence that the announcement comes as the midterm elections ramp up, which will most likely negatively affect Democratic House candidates. Could this executive order be just what Joe Biden needs to pull on a young voting population? The efficacy of this remains to be seen. However, for our university here, with nearly 63% of the student body receiving some kind of grant aid, it is impossible not to feel a sense of hope.