Forgiving student loans is a relief – in every sense of the word | Columns

What a relief!

My current student loan balance is $2,947.76, which I think is monumental because the original total was over $16,000 when I graduated from college in 2018.

When the COVID-19 pandemic hit in March 2020 and interest charges on federal student loans were frozen, I took the opportunity and repaid my principal. I used every stimulus check and the money I would have otherwise spent on food or entertainment to pay off the principal.

At the start of the pandemic, Joe Biden had started his presidential campaign and was telling me and millions of other adults struggling with student loans that he was going to forgive at least some.

I never believed him for a second.

“That will never happen,” I thought. “Politicians will say anything to get elected.”

So I used every extra dollar I had to pay off my principal. From March 13, 2020 at the time of this writing, I have reduced my main balance by $13,071.60.

Before the interest freeze, I had struggled to repay these loans for about a year and a half, but the amount of interest I was being charged each month exceeded the principal I was paying back, so I was getting into more debt.

Well, on August 24, I was shocked to see what I thought was just a wild campaign promise become a reality.

A total of $10,000 will be given to people who earn less than $125,000 on their own or per household. People who had Pell grants — typically, those given to those with “exceptional financial need” — are eligible for a $20,000 forgiveness of their loans.

I’m eligible for $10,000 help (journalism is a great job, but it doesn’t usually push you into the highest tax brackets) and the moment I heard the news, I was logged into my loan officer’s website and canceled my automatic payments.

I was filled with joy and wanted to cry. This means that I am debt free!

I paid off my car several months ago and with the cancellation of my student loan, I won’t owe anyone any money.

It’s hard to describe the rush of freedom I felt, and putting it into words is kind of my job, let alone majoring in college.

I can now focus on making good financial decisions, build an emergency fund, and maybe start investing.

I realize that I am really lucky, because a loan of $16,000 is tiny compared to the balances of other students. I had the help of my parents and several important scholarships to reduce my education costs.

According to studentloanhero.com, the Class of 2020 four-year public and private nonprofit graduates left school with bachelor’s degrees and $28,400 in debt.

I have heard many people who have repaid their loan complain about the “unfairness” of the situation.

I really get the point. However, sometimes life just isn’t fair.

I just hope that people can be happy for those who now manage to become financially free from debt. It will help many people and improve the quality of life for many.

If you have already repaid your loans, you are to be congratulated. It is a commendable achievement.

But I hope you are more sympathetic to people who have struggled with their debt rather than being bitter and resentful. Lifting someone else doesn’t push you down. And there’s really no point in walking around crazy about something you have no control over.

We all pay taxes and probably have a few things we’d rather our taxes not be used for, but that’s also part of life.

When the loan forgiveness was announced, several members of Congress were quick to criticize the program. They said they don’t think it’s fair to people who have already paid off their loans or never taken out a college loan.

U.S. Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Georgia) was very candid. However, we learned that she got $183,504 in canceled Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans for the construction company she and her husband own.

To be fair, the loan forgiveness was part of the PPP deal, as long as the company that received the loan used the money as intended. But still, as a taxpayer, helping his business would be on the short list of things I’d rather not pay. But I don’t have much control over it.

About two weeks ago I saw some rumors on social media about how you could request a refund for any money paid out for your student loan during the pandemic.

This naturally piqued my interest so I started researching and most of the articles said all you have to do is call your loan officer and ask so that’s exactly what I ‘have done.

After waiting 20 minutes, I was finally put in touch with a human, who informed me, “Yes, it’s true.” I was asked how much of the $13,071.60 I had already paid that I wanted back, so I did some quick math and figured asking for $7,052.24, added to my outstanding balance of $2,947.76, would allow me to obtain assistance of $10,000.

I sat at my kitchen table in stunned silence for several moments to absorb my new financial situation. I will soon be completely debt free and have $7,000 more in my savings.

It makes my financial outlook bright and I hope people can just be happy for me – and others in the same boat – without a bitter taste in their mouths.

What a relief!

About William Moorhead

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