President Joe Biden's decision to provide student debt relief was cheered Wednesday by New York higher education leaders and state lawmakers even as some advocacy organizations called for his administration to do more.
Biden's move will affect student loan debt of up to $10,000 in federal loans for borrowers who earn less than $125,000 and couples who make less than $250,000. Relief would come for up to $20,000 in Pell Grant recipients as well.
Even at public colleges and universities in New York, the move will make a difference, said James Davis, the president of the PSC CUNY, a union that represents faculty at the City University of New York. The average debt load of New Yorkers who borrowed to attend college or university is $16,000.
“The majority of CUNY’s indebted graduates will likely benefit from the President’s action," he said. "We thank the AFT, our national affiliate, for their leadership on canceling student debt. Because there are many borrowers for whom this initiative does not go nearly far enough, we will continue to press for a more just and expansive debt forgiveness program."
Assemblywoman Nily Rozic, a Queens Democrat, also praised the debt relief plan. Rozic chairs the Assembly Committee on Consumer Affairs.
“The president’s announcement is a huge win for NY students and consumers," she said. "At a time when New Yorkers are struggling under high costs – from the grocery stores to the gas pumps – this debt forgiveness will provide significant relief for those in the most need."
But the Education-Trust, an advocacy organization, is pushing the administration to go further.
"Canceling at least $50,000 in debt across the board would have amplified the positive effects of this decision and created pathways to financial stability for so many millions more, including Black borrowers who hold the highest amount of student loan debt and are most impacted by the racial wealth gap," said Denise Forte, the group's interim CEO.
New Yorkers carry a combined $90 billion in student loan debt, according to the Rockefeller Institute. Some lawmakers are calling for a tax deduction of up to $5,000 for student loan payments.