SF State graduate Pam Gutierrez works in her home on Sept. 28, 2022. She hopes to return to school once her debt is forgiven. (David Blakeley / Golden Gate Xpress) (David Blakeley)
SF State graduate Pam Gutierrez works in her home on Sept. 28, 2022. She hopes to return to school once her debt is forgiven. (David Blakeley / Golden Gate Xpress)

David Blakeley

‘A giant weight off the students’ backs,’ SF State students and graduates commend college debt relief plan

SF State students and alumni could be eligible for up to $20,000 in loan relief per the plan introduced in August.

October 5, 2022

Introduced in August, The Biden-Harris administration’s student debt relief plan could cancel up to $20,000 in student debt per individual upon meeting eligibility standards. The plan would eliminate up to $10,000 in student loans for non-Pell Grant recipients and up to $20,000 for Pell Grant recipients.  

According to SF State Director of the Office of Student Financial Aid Denise Peña, loans that were dispersed before June 30 are expected to be forgiven by Dec. 31.  

“This would be a win for students, and although we expect the plan to be met with resistance, I don’t see any roadblocks ahead for student debt cancellation,” Peña said.

According to Peña, Republican officials such as Texas Sen. Ted Cruz could threaten to block the loan forgiveness program through lawsuits that argue the plan is fiscally irresponsible as well as unfair to Americans who never attended college or have previously paid off their student debt.

Borrowers are eligible for this relief if their individual income is less than $125,000 or $250,000 for households, according to the official debt relief plan information.

“SF State students graduate with an average debt of $10,000 to $14,000, so many could essentially graduate debt-free,” Peña said. “It will have a significant impact on our students, even if they only qualify for the minimum threshold.”

Even if students only qualify for the minimum threshold, Peña thinks it would be life changing. 

“Being a first-generation college student, it’ll be nice to have this financial security because I’ve seen debt ruin lives,” said senior Daniel Reyes. “When student loans are forgiven, it’s a giant weight off the student’s backs, especially since students are coming to college to ultimately achieve financial independence and betterment.” 

Students walk past the SF State Student Services Building on Oct. 5, 2022. (Neal Wong / Golden Gate Xpress) (Neal Wong)

According to the official debt relief plan information, the pause on student debt payments will extend through Dec. 31 and resume  in Jan. 2023.

“Student loan forgiveness should be implemented everywhere,” Reyes said. “Everyone deserves a fair shot at education without the worry of financial burden.”

SF State graduates could also see new opportunities through the student debt relief program, such as assistance with living costs.g.

SF State graduate Octavio Salgado said that the debt relief could make living in San Francisco much easier from a financial standpoint.

“I’ll now have extra money for rent and groceries,” Salgado said. “I’ll even be able to pay off my car since I won’t have the student debt any longer.”

SF State graduate Pam Gutierrez said she would be able to return to SF State to complete an MBA once her student debt is forgiven.

“It’s really exciting because I didn’t think it would be a possibility,” Gutierrez said. “By being able to afford to return to SF State, it could end up pushing my career higher than I thought possible.”

According to Peña, the student response to the news of potential debt relief has been extremely positive.

“The day the news came out, we received a ton of phone calls and emails, even more than we were anticipating,” Peña said. “It was a very exciting day.”

According to Peña, the debt relief application should be available by mid-October. The specific date has not been confirmed yet.

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About the Contributors
Photo of David Blakeley
David Blakeley, Staff Reporter
David Blakeley (he/him) is a reporter for Golden Gate Xpress. He is majoring in journalism and minoring in labor studies. He was born in Orange County, California and has lived in San Francisco since 2013. David enjoys crime novels, drawing, skateboarding and screenwriting.
Photo of Neal Wong
Neal Wong, Contributor
Neal Wong (he/him) is a freelance photojournalist for Golden Gate Xpress. He is majoring in journalism and minoring in communications. He was born and raised in San Francisco, California. In his free time, Neal procrastinates, explores places, binge-watches shows and volunteers.

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