Biden Student Loans

President Joe Biden speaks about student loan debt forgiveness in the Roosevelt Room of the White House, Wednesday, Aug. 24, 2022, in Washington. Education Secretary Miguel Cardona listens at right. 

(The Center Square) – Nearly 700,000 student loan borrowers in Washington are eligible for loan forgiveness, but experts are divided on if the president's plan is beneficial to all Washingtonians.

President Joe Biden announced his administration’s plan to give student loan borrowers across the U.S. up to $20,000 in debt relief to Pell Grant recipients and up to $10,000 to other borrowers.

The estimated number of borrowers eligible for loan forgiveness in Washington state is 697,600. The White House estimated that 323,900 borrowers in Washington are eligible for full student loan forgiveness. 

Out of 7.73 million Washington residents, according to the most recent Census numbers, the White House's numbers represent 9.01% of the the state's population.

Liv Finne, the director for the Center for Education at the Washington Policy Center, believes the program causes more harm than benefit to Washington borrowers.

“President Biden is creating a special category of people who don't have to repay their loans,” Finne said to The Center Square in an email. “Biden likes to talk about equity, but this is one of the most inequitable actions of any administration.”  

Finne added that many low-income and middle-income Washingtonians do not have student loans, but have business loans, credit card debt, car loans and mortgages that they must repay.  

“Yet college students are getting their loans repaid, by people who did not go to college. It's an unfair and inequitable and probably illegal policy,” Finne said.

Andrew Villeneuve, the founder of the Northwest Progressive Institute, believes the Biden-Harris administration’s loan forgiveness program benefits everyone. He would like to see a further step of having free tuition for all college students going forward.

"Any American who wants to go to college should be able to, regardless of how wealthy their family is or what kind of access to money they have,” Villeneuve said to The Center Square in an email. “A country as advanced and affluent as the United States has the means to provide everyone a college education who wants one . . . and we must do so.”

The Northwest Progressive Institute surveyed Washington residents last winter. The survey found that a majority of participants are supportive of forgiving all student loan debt. Almost seven out of ten of the youngest surveyors voted in support of loan forgiveness.

“Those millennial and Gen Z voters are the future of our country and our democracy, but they have not been getting the support and opportunities they need to prosper in America from their elected representatives,” Villeneuve added.

Student loan payments are scheduled to resume in January 2023.

Staff Reporter

Spencer Pauley reports on Seattle and the King County area of Washington. He was previously an independent filmmaker and worked on "The Clinton Affair," a documentary series investigating the impeachment proceedings of former President Bill Clinton.