Vice President Kamala Harris visits Philadelphia to promote new student loan relief plan - TAI News
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Vice President Kamala Harris visits William Cramp Elementary School, April 8, 2024, in Philadelphia to promote debt relief in a meeting with city and school employees. (Alejandro A. Alvarez/The Philadelphia Inquirer via AP)

Vice President Kamala Harris hosted a roundtable at an elementary school in Philadelphia on Monday to discuss the Biden administration’s new plan to ease student loan burdens carried by public servants such as teachers, nurses, and social workers.

Harris announced during the event at William Cramp Elementary School that the Biden administration wants to eliminate up to $20,000 in accrued student loan interest for 23 million Americans, and fully eliminate student loan debt for 4 million other borrowers, including public servants who qualify for loan forgiveness under existing laws but have yet to apply for that relief.

Harris added that the administration wants to fully cancel the debt for people who took out undergraduate loans 20 years ago and graduate loans 25 years ago. 

“Many are silently struggling with student loan debt,” Harris said, praising public servants who had to take out loans to get the education needed to go into their career fields. “God knows we don’t pay them enough in the first place, but so many of them nonetheless will choose to stay in these important roles because it is a calling for them, whereas they could potentially opt in to a different profession with their skills that would pay them more. But they stay where they are because they care, and we as a society and a country should reciprocate that care by alleviating the burden that so many of them are carrying with this enormous debt that prevents them from being able to get through the month stress-free, prevents them in many cases from being able to buy a home or even start a family.”

Harris was joined at the roundtable by a teacher, a school nurse, and a social worker who all had their loans forgiven under the Biden administration and who spoke of the difference it made in their lives.

Tonya Cabeza, a teacher at Cramp School, described the feeling when she learned the $40,000 in loans that she still had 20 years after graduating college had been forgiven.

“I was doing what moms do in the kitchen with my three children, making dinner, checking emails, and I open up an email that said, ‘Congratulations, your loans have been forgiven,'” Cabeza said. “To say I was stunned is a total understatement. It was $40,000-plus dollars in student loans just gone. Zero. I wish you could have seen it. There was dancing. There were tears on my part. We knew that things were changing for us, my life had changed and what I was able to give to my children had changed.”

Richmond School nurse Beth Whelan said that the loan forgiveness she received will allow her to stay home during the summer to care for her aging mother and help her children in school.

Whelan said: “Recently, I lost my father. I remember a conversation that I had with him shortly before he died. He asked me if I was OK financially, as he would help me from time to time. I had just gotten word that all of my $65,000 of student loan debt had been forgiven. And I told him that. I saw a lot of relief in his face, as I was not going to have that burden on me anymore.”

The Biden administration’s new loan forgiveness plan has yet to be finalized. It will now go through a monthslong public comment period before it can be implemented.

It’s also likely to face legal challenges, similar to those faced by the $400 billion loan relief plan President Joe Biden attempted to implement last year. That plan was blocked by the U.S. Supreme Court, which ruled in June 2023 that the administration had overstepped its authority.

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