The Biden Administration has settled into the Capitol and college students, prospective students and alumni across the country wait for the roll-out of President Joe Biden’s higher education plan.
President Biden was sworn into office on January 20. He previously laid out his plan for higher education on his campaign website and has been vocal about his aspirations to improve the American education system.
In his plan, Biden focuses on reforming the student loan repayment process and making college more affordable for low-income families.
If approved, the Biden Administration will cut payments on undergraduate federal student loans in half. Alumni will only have to pay 5% of their income “minus taxes and essential spending,” according to joebiden.com. Their payments won’t be taxed, and after 20 years of paying student loans responsibly, their federal debt will be forgiven in its entirety.
Not all alumni will be required to pay their student loans. Those who make $25,000 or less a year will not owe or accrue interest on their undergrad federal student loans until their annual income grows. This would take the pressure off alumni and future graduates to repay their loans when they can’t afford them.
Miguel Cardona, the Department of Education Secretary nominee for the Biden Administration, has stated that he supports Biden’s plans and aims to prioritize student loan forgiveness and student debt in America.
“[I will] work with our Senators and our Congress folks to support a plan that provides some relief to our students in higher education,” Cardona said in an interview with Connecticut Public Radio.
In addition to reforming the federal student loan repayment process, the Biden Administration plans to make college more affordable for low-income and minority families.
If approved, Biden will double the value of the Pell Grant, a grant specifically made for those who need financial aid the most. He also wants to support minority-serving institutions by building research labs and abolishing inequalities in funding, says joebiden.com. By doing this, the Biden Administration aims to make attendance and graduation from college a more equitable experience for all students.
Biden also aims to make public colleges tuition-free for families who make less than $125,000 a year. This policy stems from Bernie Sanders’ and Pramila Jayapal’s proposed 2019 College for All Act. It is estimated that millions of people would be able to continue their education if this notion is put into place.
It is likely that not every aspect of these plans will come to pass. Each policy requires a big budget and may have difficulty receiving bipartisan support. For example, Biden’s free-tuition policy may not come to fruition as it’s highly debated and lacks bipartisan support. However, his plan to increase the value of the Pell Grant is more likely to pass because it has received support from both parties, as well as backing from over 80 educational organizations.