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What Happened to Biden’s Free College Plan? Cutting Cost of Higher Ed Out of Feds’ Reach

What Happened to Biden’s Free College Plan? Cutting Cost of Higher Ed Out of Feds’ Reach

USA Today

Chris Quintana
December 20, 2022
President Joe Biden’s plan for mass student loan debt relief may be a bust, but the attempt to wipe billions in education-related debt was an acknowledgment: The way the U.S. pays for higher education is not working.
Why else would nearly $400 billion in student loan debt relief be necessary? Biden himself stated in announcing his plan that an “entire generation is now saddled with unsustainable debt in exchange for an attempt, at least, at a college degree.”
“The burden is so heavy that even if you graduate,” he said in August, “you may not have access to the middle-class life that the college degree once provided.”
Questions about making college affordable for a wide swath of students remain perennially – and stubbornly – unanswered, and few policymakers have offered long-term solutions. Instead, the federal government is largely focused on addressing the impact of student loans on the roughly 44 million people holding education-related debts: The administration has streamlined the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program, canceled the debts of students taken advantage of by predatory colleges and universities and unveiled a new income-driven repayment plan that could reduce how much borrowers have to pay.
It even made it easier for those with student debt to discharge their obligations via bankruptcy – something that once seemed impossible but has been overshadowed by the president’s plan for mass student loan forgiveness.
None of these measures addresses the upfront cost of college that students, and in some cases their families, confront, in part because the federal government has limited ability to push prices down. Colleges set tuition independent of the federal government, and public institutions, especially, are likely to increase prices when states cut spending on higher education.
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