More than 293,000 Arizonans would have their debt wiped out completely if Biden gets his way.
Americans hold a staggering amount of student loan debt: over $1.7 trillion. In Arizona alone, 840,000 borrowers owe at least $29.5 billion.
Making monthly payments on that debt creates a financial strain for thousands of Arizonans, especially as the COVID-19 pandemic has left many without work.
The federal government has tried to help to alleviate this crunch by pausing payments and interest. As one of his first actions in office, President Joe Biden extended those protections through Sept. 30.
But, even when the country begins to bounce back from the pandemic, millions of people will still be left with tens of thousands of dollars hanging over them.
Biden has said he supports reducing this burden by canceling $10,000 in federal student loan debt per borrower through legislation.
What $10,000 Gets Us
On a national level, canceling $10,000 in debt per borrower would forgive at least $370.5 billion in debt, according to a 2019 analysis by American Progress.
It would cancel all debt for 36% of borrowers and reduce 20% of borrowers’ balances by half.
In Arizona, the average student debt is $34,100. This would completely wipe out the debt for 293,700 Arizonans. Over 546,000 would still have payments to make and 61,000 Arizonans who owe $100,000 or more would still have plenty left to go.
Other Plans Proposed
While Biden supports forgiving $10,000 in student loan debt, other political figures have called for him to go further.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) have advocated for Biden to cancel up to $50,000 per borrower via executive order. This action, backed by more than 200 advocacy groups including the NAACP and National Education Association, would eliminate debt for about 75% of US borrowers.
But, raising the stakes even higher, Sen. Bernie Sanders (D-Vt.) and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY), have led a charge to see all student loan debt canceled.
This option has little likelihood of coming to pass, however, without support from party leaders. Canceling all student debt is also not very popular with most Americans—a 2020 Vox and Data for Progress poll found only 4 in 10 likely voters (including those without student debt) supported it.