Who will lose the most if student loan forgiveness doesn’t pass?

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Low and middle income people

According to a White House analysis, 87% of the dollars forgiven under its program would go to those making less than $75,000 a year.

Meanwhile, any individual earning more than $125,000 will be excluded from assistance all together.

Those who want to receive the largest debt cancellation under the president’s plan, $20,000, received a Pell Grant for college, which means they also come from low-income families. Most grant recipients come from households with incomes of less than $60,000, said higher education expert Mark Kantrowitz.

“This program really helps low-income people across the board,” said Andre Perry, a senior Brookings Metro staffer, in a recent interview with The Current, a Brookings Institution podcast.

Colored people

The student debt crisis is cited as a major factor in the wide racial wealth gap in the United States today. As of the second quarter of 2022, black families own 25 cents to every dollar spent by white families, according to the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis.

Black college graduates owe an average of $7,400 more than their white peers, according to a Brookings Institution report. And that inequality is only getting worse over time. black college students owe more than $52,000 four years after graduation, compared to about $28,000 for the average white graduate.

Wisdom Cole, the national director of the NAACP’s youth and college division, recently told Politico that if student loan forgiveness doesn’t happen, it would be “cruel to borrowers across the nation and affect black borrowers even more. level”.


Women are widely recognized as the biggest winners of Biden’s student loan forgiveness program, as they owe two-thirds of the nation’s outstanding student debt.

Research by the Education Data Initiative found that the average debt of female student borrowers is nearly 10% higher than that of their male peers one year after graduation, and that due to the gender pay gap, women owe two years longer than men . on average from their student loans.

“Women will be the most affected if loan forgiveness fails,” Kantrowitz said.

Older Americans

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In recent years, as more people return to school later in life and as student debt has become more burdensome and therefore difficult to repay, more people continue to take out loans into their 50s, 60s and beyond.

In 1989, just 3% of families headed by people 50 and older had student loan debt, and their average balance was about $10,000, according to AARP. By 2016, nearly 10% of these older households still owed student loan debt, and their typical balance reached more than $33,000.

As a result, the student debt problem for older Americans will likely only get worse without repeal, experts say.


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