Reynolds calls for Biden to withdraw student loan forgiveness program

By: - September 12, 2022 5:33 pm

Gov. Kim Reynolds joined 22 GOP governors calling on President Joe Biden to cancel his plan for student loan debt forgiveness. (Photo by Catherine Lane/Getty Images)

Gov. Kim Reynolds joined a group of 22 Republican governors Monday opposing President Joe Biden’s plan to forgive student loan debt.

In a letter sent to Biden, the governors called for the administration to withdraw the program announced Aug. 24, which cancels $10,000 in student loan debt for people with an income of less than $125,000 individually and $250,000 for a household. Pell Grant recipients will have the chance to remove $20,000 in debt.

The message comes as Republicans discuss potential actions to stop Biden’s proposal from moving forward. Some GOP attorneys general, as well as conservative think tanks, may bring forward lawsuits against the plan, according to the Washington Post.

This forgiveness program forces taxpayers to take on the burden of others’ student loan debt, the governors wrote, costing an estimated $16 billion in total. That money, which the governors said comes out to more than $2,000 per taxpayer, will only help 16% to 17% of Americans, many of whom have higher salaries than people who do not attend college.

“Borrowers with the most debt, such as $50,000 or more, almost exclusively have graduate degrees, meaning hourly workers will pay off the master’s and doctorate degrees of high salaried lawyers, doctors, and professors,” the governors said in the letter. “… Simply put, your plan rewards the rich and punishes the poor.”

The Biden administration argued the program will overwhelmingly help low- and middle-class Americans. A White House chart of U.S. Department of Education data showed 87% of the debt cancellation benefits would go to those who make $75,000 or less each year, in addition to the $125,000 income cap.

Reynolds said Biden’s program doesn’t just give taxpayers an extra expense, but could lead to even higher college costs.

“Your plan will encourage more student borrowing, incentivize higher tuition rates, and drive-up inflation even further,” Reynolds said in a news release. “These outcomes hurt everyone, but none more so than the millions of working-class Americans who’ve already paid off their loans or chosen not to borrow.”

Costs for higher education have risen steadily in the past several decades. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, the total cost of going to a four-year college full time in 1980 would total to $10,231 annually when adjusted for inflation. In 2020, the price was $28,775.

That trend holds true in Iowa. The Iowa Board of Regents raised tuition rose by over $300 at the state’s three public universities this summer. Student leaders at Iowa universities said the move could prevent some Iowans from going to college, but board members said the 4.25% hike was necessary to keep up with inflation and make up for inadequate state funding. The Iowa Legislature approved just $5.5 million for state universities during the 2022 session after the Board asked for $15 million, following budget cuts the previous year.

U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona announced that people with student loan debt will be able to apply for loan forgiveness starting in early October, with a planned cut-off date of Nov. 15. 

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Robin Opsahl
Robin Opsahl

Robin Opsahl is an Iowa Capital Dispatch reporter covering the state Legislature and politics. They have experience covering government, elections and more at media organizations including Roll Call, the Sacramento Bee and the Wausau Daily Herald.