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Biden’s Student Loan Dilemma

The Daily

The New York Times

News, Daily News

4.597.8K Ratings

🗓️ 18 April 2022

⏱️ 26 minutes

🧾️ Download transcript


Across the United States, 45 million borrowers now owe $1.6 trillion in debt for federal loans taken out for college — more than consumers owe on any other debt except mortgages. For the past two years, beginning as the pandemic spread, the U.S. government has allowed tens of millions of Americans to stop paying back their students loans. This experiment in debt deferral has had unintended consequences, and poses a dilemma for President Biden. Guest: Stacy Cowley, a finance reporter for The New York Times.

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From the New York Times, I'm Michael Bavaro. This is a daily.




For the past two years, the US government has allowed tens of millions of Americans to stop


paying their student loans, a policy that was extended a little over a week ago.


I spoke with my colleague, Stacy Cowley, about the unintended consequences of this historic


experiment in debt deferral and the dilemma it's posing for the president.


This Monday, April 18th.


Stacy, I want to start at 10,000 feet with the current scope of the problem here.


Where are we right now when it comes to student debt?


So when we talk about student debt, we're talking about loans that students take out to go


to college and university. Some of this money is borrowed from private banks, but overwhelmingly,


more than 90% of it comes from the federal government, specifically the Department of Education.


So right now, there are 45 million borrowers who owe 1.6 trillion in student debt. That's


more money than consumers owe on pretty much any other debt except mortgages. It's more


money than they owe on auto loans, on credit cards. This is the largest debt many young


Americans especially have in their lives. The payments that they're making on it are


often hundreds or thousands of dollars every month.


So it's absolutely fair to call this a crisis, a historic level of debt, saddling, and


enormous percent of the American population.


Yes. What's been really striking about it is how quickly it's grown. Since 2006, the


amount Americans owe on student debt has tripled. You look at the graphs and it's just like


a complete hockey stick. It just goes up and up very, very quickly. So that's why this


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