Written by Nadia Ramlagan, Public News Service
Federal student-loan relief applications are expected to be online in a few weeks, and financial-aid offices say this also is an opportunity to increase financial literacy.
Valerie Clem Brown, director of financial aid at William Peace University, said she supports the Biden administration's plan to offer $10,000 in loan forgiveness to federal student borrowers with incomes of less than $125,000 a year, but added that she's also worried there hasn't been enough focus on increasing college freshmen's understanding of the amount of money they're borrowing, and how their chosen career might affect their ability to repay it.
"Most of us couldn't go out and just buy a house without taking out a loan, but we do our research and we figure out what we need to do - so that way, we're not in the hole years from now," she said. "And I think the same thing needs to happen with student loans."
Brown noted that the U-S Department of Education requires 30 minutes of student-loan entrance counseling before a person can take out his or her first loan, but she said she doesn't think that's enough.
Research from the Education Data Initiative shows most borrowers have $460 in monthly student-loan payments.
Jeni Myers, a recent college graduate, said she was surprised and excited by the news that a portion of her debt would be forgiven. She said she believes the announcement is a game-changer for students like herself, who are solely responsible for making ends meet to pay their college tuition.
"What paved the way for me to go to school was my scholarships and my loans," she said. "So, when I saw this initiative, I was very, very relieved, too, because I have about $35,000 in student debt."
Brown advised students to use vetted resources for information about their student loans, such as their financial office and the U.S. Department of Education's website, ed.gov.
"Making sure that they're going to a professional to get information, making sure that they're not just asking their friends," she said. "There's a lot of really great resources online, but there's also a lot of really bad resources."
The North Carolina Department of Revenue has said student-loan relief payments are considered taxable income under state law.