National student loan relief provides hope to QU students

Daniel Passapera and Krystal Miller

Two months ago, President Joe Biden announced a student loan relief plan that would erase a sum of federal student loans from borrowers. On Oct. 17, the application to apply for loan cancellation became available, providing a sense of relief for many students at Quinnipiac University. 

The program promises $10,000 in debt cancellation for individuals who earned less than $125,000 in 2020 and 2021 in income. Families who earned under $250,000 in those years would also qualify. 

Recipients of Pell Grants, grants for students in financial need at the government’s discretion, qualify for an additional $10,000 in relief. 

Nearly 4,000 undergraduate students at Quinnipiac represent over $26 million in federal student loans, according to data from the United States Department of Education National Center for Education Statistics. 

Amber Hill, a junior law in society major, works two work-study jobs and is a Pell Grant recipient. Hill said it’s “almost impossible” to pay the price for a degree, especially in the law field, but with this relief, she estimates her federal loans will be cut in half. 

With a university-wide increase in tuition for this academic year, the total cost of attendance at Quinnipiac’s School of Law ranges from $71,000 to nearly $80,000 per year. 

“I can focus on my studies more and not worry as much in the year 2026 or 2027,” Hill said. “When I’m ready to go into the workforce, I don’t have to worry as much about working towards paying off my debt, I can worry more about housing and stuff like that.” 

Elizabeth McGrann, a graduate business administration student, said she’s been waiting since the summer for the federal student debt relief application to open and has encouraged others to apply as well. 

“I think that this is definitely a step in the right direction to making education much more accessible to everyone and take away a barrier a lot of people have to actually get a higher education,” McGrann said. 

The fate of the debt relief remains uncertain following multiple national lawsuits from Republican lawmakers. On Oct. 21, the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals temporarily suspended the relief effort by halting debt discharge following a lawsuit by six GOP-led states. 

At least four states in the lawsuit claim the loan debt relief program causes “imminent harm in the form of lost tax revenue,” the lawsuit reads. 

In response to the lawsuits, U.S Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona addressed concerns about the lawsuit in a video posted on Twitter Oct. 22. 

“We promise to fight and protect you from baseless lawsuits trying to stop us from providing you debt relief,” Cardona said in the video. 

Hill said the politicians attempting to block this relief effort are “out of touch” and can’t relate to students in financial need. 

“They don’t understand what the people benefiting from this are experiencing,” Hill said. 

McGrann said she has roughly $80,000 of federal loans which will take her years to pay back and many other students are in a similar position, so this program being shut down would not be a smart move by the government. 

“I understand people’s anger with it, and the effect it’s going to have on taxes and things, but at the same time I think it was necessary to actually help students who are in debt, start their actual careers and lives,” McGrann said. 

Despite the ongoing legal battle, the relief application is available through the U.S Department of Education until Dec. 31, 2023. 

The Biden Administration recommends applying for the relief before the end of the year as student loan payments will resume for the first time since being halted during the height of the pandemic.

The application requires basic personal information including, name, Social Security number, birth date, email and phone number. Federal Student Aid notified student borrowers who have information on file that action is not required for the relief but recommends filling out the application for quicker debt cancellation via email.

With the burden of student debt weighing on the lives of college students, the relief efforts are providing a sense of hope for those looking toward the future.

“It is [the relief] helping the student that knows what they want to do, knows exactly how much they’re gonna be in debt, and doesn’t have the means to make hundreds of thousands of dollars to pay it off,” Hill said.