Meet a Republican who's getting all of his student loans forgiven but thinks Biden's debt relief plan is unfair: 'I don't really view this policy as just.'

  • President Joe Biden will forgive $10,000 in student loan debt for some borrowers.

  • Matthew, a Republican, is one of those borrowers, and will get all of his debt wiped out.

  • But Matthew is concerned that the forgiveness won't stand up in court and is unfair.

Matthew is set to get all of his student loans forgiven — but he's skeptical if it'll actually happen, or if the policy is even fair.

"I would be a beneficiary of this policy — if it does go through. It would absolutely make an impact on myself and my family's future," he said. "However, I don't really view this policy as just. I think it's quite inequitable. I think it's quite unfair, and I think it sets a pretty bad precedent moving forward."

The 28-year-old, whose last name is known to Insider, lives in Salt Lake City, Utah. He's currently pursuing a master's in business administration while working in real estate. Matthew, who's a Republican, said he graduated debt-free from undergrad by going to community college for two years, working, getting scholarships, and dipping into his savings.

When he entered his master's program, his goal was still to just pay his way through. Then he started hearing the whispers about President Joe Biden potentially forgiving $10,000 in student loan debt.

"I knew that this policy was a campaign promise that President Biden made, I knew that this was something that the administration was really gunning for," he said. "I actually thought I saw it as a real possibility that this could take place."

So he took out a loan, what he called an "educated risk," in May. His thinking: "If it gets forgiven by the administration, then that's terrific. And it's done. If not, then I would just go ahead and pay it back with the savings I've already accrued."

That timing ended up being exactly on the nose, with the Biden administration's forgiveness extending to borrowers who took out loans by June 30.

He's not sure how the announcement will shake out legally

But Matthew has concerns about whether the announcement could withstand legal scrutiny, especially because it relies on the Heroes Act — a 2003 law that gives the government authority to relieve debt during national emergencies. This time, the national emergency is the pandemic.

"I personally believe that if it does reach up to the Supreme Court, it will be overturned. I don't plan on spending any of the money or doing anything right now. I'm just holding off and waiting," Matthew said.

Republicans have hit back by noting that Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi said the president does not have the power to forgive debt. But the Biden administration has already asserted that they believe they have "strong" legal standing to grant the forgiveness.

"Of course, people can challenge actions in court. It happens all the time. It happens to this administration," National Economic Council deputy director Bharat Ramamurti said at a press briefing. "It's happened to every administration in history. It's going to be up to the courts to decide whether those are valid claims or not. But we believe that we're on very strong legal ground."

He's also concerned that the announcement is unfair

Matthew worries that the announcement will set a precedent for an administration to do this again, which he sees as unfair to Americans like him — people who worked, budgeted, and "did their homework on what types of majors they go into, what type of jobs would be available, and how long that would take them to pay back their debt."

He also thinks it's unfair to people who didn't go to college to save money, and went into areas like trades instead. "What makes student loan debt more virtuous than someone who took out a small business loan to start a food truck or something along those lines?" he said.

But, ultimately, Matthew thinks relief should be targeted at those who absolutely need it.

The Biden administration has said that nearly 90% of the benefit from debt cancellation will go towards debtors who make less than $75,000, and that Black borrowers — who typically carry higher student loan debt — will be particularly impacted, with the average borrowers debt falling by half and a quarter of Black borrowers seeing debt wiped out completely. Advocates have called for even greater relief to curb inequity in borrowing.

Matthew's worry is about the 10% of people earning between $75,000 and $125,000 (or up to $250,000 jointly) and seeing relief.

"Why isn't this a process that affects solely those who are in the public service?" he said. "Why not a process that affects solely teachers or firefighters or police officers or individuals who are taking an actual sacrifice or putting their lives?"

Food stamps, or social security — both programs that taxpayers subsidize, but don't necessarily benefit from – are geared towards helping those who are in legitimate financial need, Matthew said.

"In government and in society, there are programs that we absolutely do need to watch out for those who are more in need and help those who are more in need be able to pick themselves up and get back into the world," he said. Those are programs that aren't meant to be abused — something he doesn't necessarily think is true of student loan forgiveness, with its $125,000 income cap.

He ultimately thinks the blame for the student-debt crisis lies with the cost of education

In an ideal world, when addressing student loan debt, "the first issue we would address is the cost of tuition," Matthew said. He pointed to the rise of administrators in education fetching six-figure salaries, which can drive up tuition. He also wouldn't be opposed to increasing the amount of money lower-income individuals receive in Pell Grants.

"Working bipartisanly to find a way to cut down student tuition costs at universities would be another appropriate step," Matthew said.

Even so, if and when he does get his forgiveness, Matthew said it'd be a "decent windfall." He'd still be "discouraged" with the overall loan and educational system, though.

"This issue isn't just affecting me," he said. "It's affecting millions of other people around the country, many of whom may need some relief, especially with the cost of education skyrocketing and the idea that taking out $20, $30, $40,000 a year upwards,depending on the program that you're in, is normal. I think that's an issue that we need to address more than giving $10,000 to 43 million individuals out there."

Read the original article on Business Insider