Future of student loan forgiveness program is uncertain (includes video story)

The U.S. Department of Education has stopped accepting applications for federal student loan forgiveness after U.S. District Judge Mark Pittman blocked the plan saying the program is an “unconstitutional exercise of congress’ legislative power.” Now those hoping for relief are in limbo.

We sat down with Erika Jones, an associate project manager by trade and medical school applicant to share her thoughts on the latest updates on the Biden Administration’s student loan forgiveness program.

“They’re gonna have to find something else, they can’t do nothing,” Jones said.

With $70,000 worth of student loan debt, Erika was looking forward to the possibility of canceling at least $20,000 of that debt, that was until the initiative was blocked.

“You’re asking people who haven’t paid for their loans in the last two and a half years to then start paying for it,” she said. “I just don’t see anything positive happening.”

In the 26-page decision, Pittman, who was appointed by Donal Trump declared the policy unlawful, causing the federal student aid website to shut down the forgiveness application page shortly after.

The U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona tweeted a statement after the court ruling saying “we believe strongly that the Biden-Harris student debt relief plan is lawful and necessary to give borrowers and working families breathing room as they recover from the pandemic and ensure they succeed when repayment restarts.

”Earlier this month, the Biden Administration announced that close to 26 million Americans applied for relief and that the department of education was on track to approve cancellation for 16 million borrowers. The program was put into place to help student loan borrowers receive up to $20,000 in forgiveness.

But despite the reality of Erika’s lifetime dream of becoming a surgeon increasing her debt, the impact she wants to have far outweighed the financial stress of medical school.“Medical school is very expensive, on average doctors have $100 to $200k in debt just from medical school,‘’ Jones said. “I’m not going to medical school because I’ll make a lot of money, there are people who need a doctor…a black doctor like myself to really give them that care and have them feel heard and seen and maybe even get them into the hospitals that they need to…that’s my why.”

And as far as the future, Erika is hopeful and chooses not to allow student loan debt to discourage her.

“Right now I am just taking it little by little, my goal right now is to knock out my smallest debt by the end of this year which I believe is $5,000,” she said. “All I can do is move along slowly, I know I don’t have $20,000 to drop on a loan…it’s ok, all I can do is do as I can…if I am taking it chunk by chunk, that makes it better.”

Although the plan has been blocked, the Justice Department has already appealed the ruling in hopes of getting the program back in action as soon as possible.

Michelle Morris is a senior at Florida International University, pursuing her Bachelor’s degree in Mass Communications and Digital Media with a concentration in Television Production. Michelle Morris is Haitian American and has a passion for storytelling and video production that make diverse stories come to life. After graduation, Michelle aspires to be a television presenter as well as pursue other areas of television such as screenwriting.