Fact or Fiction: where federal student loan repayment stands today

Your Money Matters

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — For more than a year, millions of Americans have had a taste of what life would be like without student loans.

The federal COVID relief packages have put a freeze on student loan payments and interest through September 2021, but the discussion over the possibility of student debt forgiveness is still ongoing. 

“It’s unfair for all of our students to have so much debt,” Senator Chuck Schumer said in a New York rally Friday.

This week brought renewed national debate on federal student loan forgiveness.

“We are here to ask the president with the flick of a pen, to eliminate $50,000 of student debt for every student who has it,” Sen. Schumer said. 

Along with some proposed legislation, several democratic lawmakers are asking for executive action, creating a lot of buzz for students.

“It gives me a little bit of relief to think about, maybe I won’t have as much to pay back, but I don’t know if it will go through or if it will go anywhere. It makes me a little anxious to think about too,” Augustana student Hannah Rolfs said. 

Rolfs is a fifth-year student at Augustana University; an extra year of schooling that means even more students loans.

“I have about $39,000 in student loans,” Rolfs said. 

With the coronavirus relief package, her loans have not incurred interest for the past year.

“I don’t have to worry about them becoming more by the time I do have to pay them,” Rolfs said. 

Now just a few months from graduation, paying them off is becoming a bigger concern.

“I know starting out my job doesn’t pay a lot,” Rolf said.

But whether she’ll end up having to pay back her student loans is still up for debate.

“Everything is still very up in the air,” SDSU Financial Aid Coordinator Elizabeth Augustine said. “Could it be $50,000 student debt relief, could it be $10,000, will it be taxed, could it be some students, could it be all students?”

Augustine says the national discussion has students talking too.

“I think students are hopeful, of course they would be,” Augustine said. 

“I have over twenty grand, so that would be pretty huge,” Augustana Junior Ted Van Alstyne said.

“I was planning on just paying for it, but we’ll see now,” Augustana Sophomore Trinity Atkins said. “It would definitely be a nice surprise.”

An intriguing possibility, but one Augustine says students shouldn’t count on just yet.

“Until it’s on pen and paper, we’re hesitant on really addressing it or having a position on it or how it might affect our students,” Augustine said. 

“I’m just going to go into thinking, I have to pay this. And if I don’t have to pay it then we’re good we’re golden, we’ll go from there,” Rolfs said. 

Augustine says the best course of action for current and upcoming college students is to still apply for as many scholarships and other financial aid as possible to keep any student debt down, no matter what might happen with forgiveness in the future.

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