UI students respond as $ 5.8 billion in student debt forgiven for people with disabilities
The Biden administration announced its intention to alleviate student debt for Americans with severe and permanent disabilities on August 19. The move, which takes effect this month, will ease $ 5.8 billion in debt and affect more than 300,000 Americans with disabilities, according to the Associated Press.
“We have heard loud and clear from borrowers with disabilities and advocates of the need for this change and are delighted to act on it,” Education Secretary Miguel Cardona said in an AP article.
John Andresen, research associate at the Indiana Institute on Disability and Community, said the total and permanent disability relief program existed before Biden’s presidency.
“What the Biden administrator is doing is sort of using his authority right now to modify an existing program,” Andresen said. “To kind of extend it to make sure it reaches everyone that it should be reaching.”
If disabled federal student loan borrowers are unable to find gainful employment, which is steady work that results in a self-sufficient salary, they can have their student loans canceled, Andresen said.
“It could be physical, it could be psychological, it could be a range of different disabilities that prevent them from maintaining constant gainful employment,” said Andresen.
In the past, people with disabilities had to go through an application process to get their debt canceled, Andresen said. The problem with the demand in previous years was that many people didn’t know they were eligible for student loan relief, he said.
Anderson said the application process is no longer in use. Borrowers are now automatically eligible for the program based on data supporting their disability in the Social Security Administration, he said.
“What they’re going to do now is they’ve done away with that application process completely, which is really cool,” Andresen said. “It is a good burden that the applicant must take away from them. They have removed this obstacle.
Harrison Getz, director of IU, was born with bilateral hearing loss. He was able to get hearing aids and receive speech therapy as he grew older, but said this disability always added an additional challenge to his education, especially when he got to college.
“Once I got to college it was a whole different story to really have to fend for yourself and not expect any accommodation unless you were fully up to date and followed everything. the process to do it, ”Getz said.
Getz said there were not always easy solutions to the problems caused by his disability, and he struggled to feel like a burden on his teachers. He said it was difficult to try to find accommodation.
“There are things in place to help us,” Getz said. “But I don’t think we talk about it enough.”
He said he is grateful for the student debt relief movement. Going to college and entering adulthood is hard enough, but having to deal with disability and other responsibilities, like homework, is a lot to take on, he said.
“I think that would be a really cool thing because a lot of people with disabilities have a really sour taste in their mouth because of their experience in college or in general education,” Getz said.
With the majority of his college years spent under the Trump administration, Getz said he never even imagined that a program with such easy access would be considered for people with disabilities like him.
“I never even really imagined it would be something we would even have talked about,” Getz said. “Much of my college career has been under Trump’s presidency, so you weren’t even expecting there to be that kind of option. It’s really cool to see that we are talking about it and that my problems and those of the other students are not only dramatic.
Getz did not receive any disability scholarship when entering college, so he strived to have as little debt as possible in the future, he said.
“Not having to worry about the financial burden that school has been and will be in the future would somehow redefine how I view what I got from my studies,” Getz said.