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Biden boosts student loan relief plan, midterm elections in Dover

Katie Tabeling

President Joe Biden returned to Delaware to rally around his administration’s plan to relieve up to $20,000 in student loan debt on Friday. | DBT PHOTO BY KATIE TABELING

DOVER  – President Joe Biden rallied support around his Student Loan Forgiveness Plan from a stage at Delaware State University, surrounded by students and staff from Delaware’s only historically Black university and in the spotlight of national media.

“My commitment, when I ran for president of the United States, was to make the government work and deliver for the people. And I’m keeping that commitment to each student with debt,” Biden told the crowd from the auditorium at the DSU Education and Humanities Theater on Friday afternoon.

“Our student loan plan lowers costs for Americans as they recover from the pandemic, and it gives everybody a little more breathing room,” the president added. “It will not go to the top 5% of incomes, period. It goes to the people who really need it across America.”

Biden delivered his remarks flanked by DSU students involved in civic associations or sports. Nationally, about 60% of Black college students and nearly half of Native American and Latino students receive a Pell grant, according to Forbes.

Roughly 75% of the students at DSU are Pell grant recipients, Biden said. Those students could benefit from up to $20,000 in loan forgiveness under Biden’s plan.

In Delaware, borrowers owe a cumulative $4.8 billion in federal and private student loans, according to Student Loan Hero, an organization focused on helping borrowers manage and eliminate their loans. There are more than 100,000 borrowers in Delaware who owe an average of $36,243.

Student Loan Hero reports that $10,000 in loan forgiveness would result in 38,567 Delawareans having their entire student debt portfolios eliminated.

As he spoke, Biden focused on the students in the room, joking that DSU needed to defeat Howard University at its Saturday football game, as Vice President Kamala Harris was a proud Howard alum.

Joined by Delaware State University students on the stage, President Joe Biden told the next generation left him optimistic for the future. | DBT PHOTO BY KATIE TABELING

But he also took time to celebrate the generation that joined him on the stage, commenting that the future looked bright viewed through their eyes.

“You’re an example of why I’m so optimistic about the future. You are the most involved, the most educated, the most engaged and the least prejudiced generation in American history,” he said.

After pushing back the student loan forbearance throughout the year, Biden and his administration revealed a plan that would forgive up to $20,000 in student loan debt per borrower. Specifically, the plan offers $10,000 in student loan forgiveness for borrowers who make less than $125,000 individually and $250,000 per family. That amount offers $20,000 in student loan forgiveness if the borrower receives a federal Pell grant.

The Biden Administration estimates the plan impacts 40 million Americans, and about 90% of those borrowers are making under $75,000 per year.

Biden touted that nearly 22 million borrowers have given the federal government information to go toward their application. Yesterday, two separate challenges to the loan forgiveness plan were rejected by federal courts, including one faced by Supreme Court Justice Amy Coney Barrett.

However, the U.S. 8th Circuit Court of Appeals issued an order late Friday that prohibits the Biden administration from “discharging any student loan debt” until it rules on the case.

While the president has often referenced the plan in the last eight weeks, his stop in Dover was the first time he used the student debt relief plan as a rallying cry ahead of the midterm elections.

The president used his speech to lambast Republicans who voted for the Trump administration’s $2 trillion Tax Cuts and Jobs Act and had their own debt relieved under the Paycheck Protection Program but still criticized the student loan forgiveness program. Specifically, he called out Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) for receiving a PPP loan of $182,000, and Rep. Vern Buchanan (R-Fla.), who received a PPP loan of $2.3 million.

With the midterm elections 18 days away, Biden also used the time to tout the successes he achieved. That included appointing Supreme Court Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson, and offering a mass pardon for people convicted of federal marijuana possession. He also promised to “negotiate” drug prices to lower costs, as well as to tighten gun safety laws – specifically to eliminate assault weapons – and to codify Roe v. Wade throughout the nation.

“If we maintain the Senate, pick up a couple of senators, we’re going to see to it,” the president said.

Biden’s visit to DSU also celebrates his ties to Dover, as he started political organizing for Kent and Sussex counties. He also has specific ties to university President Tony Allen, who served as his speechwriter while he served in the U.S. Senate early in his career.

Allen has since gone on to hold roles at the Wilmington Urban League, MBNA and Bank of America before he joined the state’s only HBCU in 2017.

“President Biden has never forgotten about diversity, and even more importantly, he’s never forgotten about the plight of people of color in our country,” Allen told the crowd before the president spoke. “I want to be clear, this debt plan will touch 1.5 million HBCU students. I assure you, the president’s work is not done. In fact, he’s getting started.”

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