Recent college graduates react to federal student loan announcement

Published: Aug. 25, 2022 at 1:15 PM EDT
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ROANOKE, Va. (WDBJ) - As student loan relief makes its way to millions of Americans, this news is receiving different reactions from thousands of borrowers.

“It’s not the broad, deep, sweeping motion that we all wanted. However, we can-- I see it as a good first step in the right direction. And it makes me finally feel like I won’t be paying my debts back forever,” said Aubrey-Gray Watson, a recent graduate of Longwood University and southwest Virginia native.

DeShane Short and Aubrey-Gray Watson are two native Virginians who had to take out federal students’ loans to go to college. Watson is new to the workforce, and Short is in graduate school, so news of student loan forgiveness came right on time.

“I told myself I didn’t want to spend more on my college education than what I would pay for a luxury car. And after this loan forgiveness, It might even be that I pay as much for my college education as I did for my first car,” said Gray-Watson.

“I definitely am happy that this plan is like the first step into making people feel more comfortable with going to college or with understanding in depth of how of how their education works, because I truly do think like no one should have to struggle after getting your degree,” said DeShane ‘Shane’ Short, a recent Longwood University graduate.

Short and Watson owe two very different amounts of loans, but they both agree Biden’s plan is a step in a new direction.

“I am one of those individuals who I was already progressively paying my loans off a little bit into my senior semester, and as I was coming out of school immediately-- so realistically, what this loan cancellation is going to do for us is it takes that weight, that financial burden, off of us,” said Gray-Watson.

They also believe this brings up another conversation about the cost of higher education.

“And for those who didn’t maybe have a chance to go to school, either because they couldn’t afford it or because they opted not to. I’m hoping that this is as we move forward a sign for them that if you want to pursue this, it is possible and it is available,” said Gray-Watson.

Their message about student loan forgiveness is that the work isn’t over just yet.

“I want people to just learn that --you know, you can’t wait; you have to know what you’re getting into. You have to know how your student debts and how your loans are working,” said Short.

The student loan plan forgives $20,000 of debt for those with Pell Grants, and $10,000 for other borrowers making under $125,000 a year. The new move also caps income-driven payments at five percent of monthly income.

President Biden also extended the payment pause on federal student loans for a “final time” through Dec. 31.