Crushing student loan debt is a problem millions of young Americans face as the cost of college tuition continues to skyrocket. After earning a four-year degree and failing to find high paying jobs in a brutal job market, many face decades of work to repay the loans while others will be forced to default as their monthly incomes won’t cover basic cost of living expenses.
President Barack Obama announced he will take a bold stance against the student loan crisis by mandating that the Department of Education give a fair chance to those facing burdensome debt.
The administration announced that DOE will forgive $7.7 billion of student loan debt accrued by Americans designated as permanently disabled. The mandate will affect nearly 400,000 Americans. Currently, 179,000 disabled people are in default and risk having their Social Security and wage income garnished to pay back the loans.
Before this sweeping mandate, an earlier provision allowed disabled Americans to apply for student loan forgiveness through their Social Security status, but many were not aware of the option and did not apply for the program.
“Too many eligible borrowers were falling through the cracks, unaware they were eligible for relief. Americans with disabilities have a right to student loan relief,” Education Under Secretary Ted Mitchell said.
Obama made it clear that he understands the struggles disabled American face and wants them to know their sacrifices are not ignored or forgotten. Instead of fighting Congress to remedy a broken system, Obama addressed a dire problem that was in desperate need of reform.
Even as the inevitable fighting between Republicans and Democrats is sure to ensue, Obama is standing firm in his support of disabled Americans and the premise that student loan relief for those who need it most trumps the backlash from Tea Party Republicans over fiscal conservatism.