Blocking relief is an “unhealthy game”

  • Guilherme Lopes, 31, is a first-generation college student with $146,000 in student debt.
  • He said recent court rulings blocking debt relief “look like a really sick game”.
  • The uncertainty of succession prevents him from planning financially for the future.

Guilherme Lopes was the first in his family to attend college in America.

After immigrating to the United States from Brazil when he was 5, Lopes, now 31, says he lacked the knowledge to navigate the financial aid system. When guidance counselors at his high school advised him to take out student loans to fund his education, that’s exactly what he did.

Lopes took out direct federal loans under her own name, and her mother took out Parent PLUS loans to help cover additional costs. His balance is nearly $146,000, about $46,000 more than his balance at graduation in 2013 due to interest. Like many in his position, he was thrilled when President Joe Biden said on the campaign trail that he would approve $10,000 in debt relief.

“A big part of my policy views was how we were going to approach student loans, if we could get some relief or if we could make the system a little bit easier for people,” Lopes told Insider. “So when Biden was running, it was really attractive at first when he said he would forgive $10,000.”

However, shortly after Biden announcement its one-time student loan forgiveness plan, a number of conservative lawsuits have arisen to block debt relief. Some of the lawsuits have been dismissed by the district courts – the Supreme Court itself diverted of them. But last week, two federal courts blocked the implementation of debt relief, leaving millions of borrowers in limbo as they wait to find out when, or if, they will see a reduction of up to $20,000 on their loan balances. loans.

As a nonprofit worker who currently earns a five-figure salary, Lopes is also enrolled in the Civil Service Loan Forgiveness Program, which promises to forgive student debt for government and nonprofit workers. lucrative after ten years of qualifying payments. But he still has a ways to go with that repayment plan, and he was hoping that $10,000 in relief would help him progress faster. He also hoped it would help his mother and brother, who were also in debt.

“That’s really rude, because my mother is an immigrant who crossed the border and found citizenship here and went through the struggle, finally found the courage to take online classes and got her master’s degree online, and she also owes money at the age of 65,” Lopes said. “It’s just terribly wicked. It’s not the American Dream we were promised would come.”

“It looks like a really sick game”

Last week, a Texas federal judge ruled that Biden’s debt relief is illegal in response to a lawsuit brought by two student loan borrowers who did not qualify for the full amount of loan forgiveness. On Monday, the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the temporary suspension it imposed on the aid will remain in effect until the court rules definitively on its legality.

The Ministry of Education appealed the decisions. While the Biden administration has confidence expressed that will prevail in court, Lopes said he was upset that these lawsuits even happened in the first place.

“I really think it affects mental health,” Lopes said. “It’s more of the unknown, the uncertainty, it just feels like a really sick game. Are we going to take a break? Are our payouts coming back? It’s just annoying.”

With court rulings blocking relief indefinitely, the department is no longer accept new applicationsand he indicated in a recent court filing that it is “examining” another one extension of the student loan payment break.

The financial uncertainty these lawsuits have created, as well as a possible extension of the payment break, have prevented Lopes from planning her wedding or buying “anything of significant value.” He stressed that he was not asking for handouts, but he feels that many Americans have a sense of “right, I went through it, so you have to go through it.”

“It seems a little weird to me,” Lopes said. “It raises a lot of anxiety.”

“I have faith because the alternative is anxiety”

Lopes said he was lucky his employer paid for his graduate degree, but during that time he deferred repayment of his undergraduate loans and accrued interest, which drove up his balance. . He said he wished the terms of student debt had been made clear to him from the start, especially since interest kept many other borrowers likewise make a dent in the original balance they borrowed.

With the lack of clarity surrounding student loan forgiveness, Lopes said he had “no choice” but to remain hopeful the Biden administration will follow suit, adding, “I have confidence because the alternative is anxiety”.

During this time, many defenders and Democratic lawmakers have ideas for what Biden should do to ease the stress millions of borrowers are feeling right now. Several advocacy groups have called for an extension of the student loan repayment pause, with Wisdom Cole, director of youth and college for the NAACP, saying in a statement Wednesday that the organization “fully supports the extension of the repayment until borrowers get the relief they deserve”. and have been promised.”

“It’s infuriating that the very people who benefited from hundreds of thousands, if not millions of dollars in bailouts are now attacking Aid for Americans with Pell Grants, 51% of which goes to students whose families earn less than $20,000. per year,” he said. . “It’s hypocritical, sickening and says a lot about the kinds of politicians who need to be overthrown. But they won’t win this fight.”

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