It is unacceptable that Americans still have to pay student loans. It is even more unacceptable that more than two-thirds of federal student loan borrowers’ finances will be financially fucked if they resume paying their student loans. Seventy-five percent of adults with federal student loans said in a survey published by Bankrate that at least one part of their finances will be negatively impacted when forced to start repayments in January.
It’s been about two years since Americans made student loan payments, due to payment freezes instituted during the covid-19 pandemic. But unless the Biden Administration acts soon (Congress is a nonstarter without filibuster reform), the freeze will expire on Jan. 31, 2022.
On Monday, the Student Debt Crisis Center reported the student loan total reached at least $1,865,629,054,768. Jezebel’s deputy editor Jenna Amatulli has been inundated with “reminders” via both text and email about her loans and their imminent resurgence. “I definitely don’t remember the exact number I owe per month, but I know it sucks and will likely make me want to cry when I eventually have to face it,” she told me. “I’m like, ‘Yes, bitch, I know I have loans and will pay them when you require it again!!!’”
Truly, how could anyone forget about those looming thousand of dollars they owe? Especially when Bankrate found that 40 percent of borrowers used the money usually used for a loan payment to pay for regular-ass bills like rent.
Staff writer Gabrielle Bruney said the reminders feel a lil ominous. “I’ve been getting emails warning that the return of auto-debit is just around the corner, which I guess is better than being surprised to see money taken out of my account,” she told me. “But it also feels a bit like being visited by an enforcer who’s warning me that next time he sees me, I better pay up.”
Amatulli, Bruney, and millions of others, shouldn’t have to repay their student loans. That would be my presidential platform. This is what Joe Biden said was part of his when he was on the campaign trail! It’s a good platform! That’s because the people benefiting the most from student loan cancellation are the core constituency Democrats are trying to court. The Roosevelt Institute published research in June that any level student loan debt cancellation would most benefit Americans with the least wealth, particularly Black and Latinx Americans.
Further, student debt is held most by American women and by people who were unable to graduate with degrees. These are the same groups of people being most deeply affected by the covid-19 pandemic. Knowing all of this, of course people are concerned about having to restart the payment process.
For my household, the return of student loan repayments mean a restructuring of our long-term plans to get of debt, pay for an eventual wedding or house, and some kind of child-creation as queer women. Adding that line back to our budget is painful. And we’re not alone. Nearly 80 percent of millennials expect to take a financial hit when they start repaying loans.
There are even more stomach-churning findings in this survey. One in 5 borrowers (about 18 percent) don’t have a plan to make their looming payments. Twenty-five percent said they’ll need “a second job or side hustle” when repayments start. More than on third of people said it will be harder to pay for necessary bills in February because the repayment burden is so high.
The reality is that the effects of the covid-19 pandemic are still being felt in our lives, and that’s before you take into the worrying news of a new variant. One tip from Amatulli to lessen the blow: biweekly payments. Instead of one lump sum per month, you pay half one time a month and the other half later, cutting down on interest.
That said, do not take this one bit of advice as an endorsement of paying your student loans. The government told us college degrees would lead to a better life, and maybe it would if we didn’t have to repay loans. So, screw student loans and screw the Biden Administration for refusing to help millions of Americans.