Ash, a 34-year-old accountant from Connecticut, graduated from college in 2009 with more than $100,000 in private loans, she says.
Still, she considers herself relatively lucky. With the help of her husband, who did not have his own student loans, they managed to repay them in March 2022, after 12 years of sacrifices to be able to pay the monthly loan payments.
Although Ash, who asked Fortune not to share her last name to protect her privacy, hadn’t fully repaid her loans earlier this year, she wouldn’t have benefited from Wednesday’s student loan forgiveness announcement. There will be no relief for the approximately 2 million private borrowers. The Biden-Harris administration’s debt cancellation plan erases $10,000 in federal student debt for borrowers earning less than $125,000 a year and up to $20,000 for those on Pell Grants.
Ash is frustrated with the news and the limitations of Biden’s pardon program.
“Why are there no resources to help those with private loans obtain forgiveness?” Ash says. “It’s like being told that if I go to college I can get a good job and support myself and my family, and that’s not always true in our environment. current.”
When she looks at all the money she paid to break free from the shackles her loans put her in, she thinks of all the other places the money could have gone and how different her life could have been. “I could have bought a place to stay. My situation could have been different.
Private student loans represent just over 8% of total student debt outstanding, with the national balance of private loans exceeding $140 billion. They are not eligible for forgiveness because borrowers with private loans owe independent providers, not the federal government.
“I think it really comes down to class,” Ash says, “when you don’t have the financial resources to understand how signing those loans will have impacts that will follow you for the rest of your life.”
Ash’s mother earned about $100,000, her father $60,000, and Ash was one of four children, she said. When it came time to go to college, they didn’t qualify for any of the federal need-based loan programs. But she couldn’t afford school fees, so she took out private loans.
On a student loan subreddit in April, Ash lamented the lack of information and guidance she received from adults before signing off on her financial future. At the same time, she was celebrating that she had finally paid her fees, but it was bittersweet, she said.
“I don’t feel a pure sense of happiness,” she wrote. “To be honest, I feel a bit disappointed that in high school, no teacher, guidance counselor, principal, or better yet…no ADULT told me the reality of going into massive debt between 17 and 21. year. .”
For Ash, the $10,000 discount isn’t meaningful, although for the roughly 20 million borrowers who will have their balances wiped out completely, it’s better than the nothing that goes to debtors with private loans.
But the real question that concerns her is how to rethink secondary education, its cost and how to pay for it. Since 1980, the cost of public and private colleges has nearly tripled, according to the College Board.
Ash says she still believes going to college is important, but education shouldn’t mean spending tens of thousands of dollars to sit in the lecture halls of a four-year-old institution. . “Resources are everywhere,” Ash says, saying young people should be encouraged to learn trades and earn valuable certifications online. “It’s not just about four-year institutions anymore.”
Before taking out loans, especially private loans, understand that community colleges and trade schools are viable options, she says. And it’s important to know the difference between federal loans and private loans, and if you have to take out private loans, she says, take only what you need.
Having financial freedom is priceless, says Ash.
“[College] is a business like anything else, and at the end of the day, I think educating and letting kids know that there are other options is so important.
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