(The Center Square) – Illinois has the 7th highest student loan debt in the nation, standing at $61.6 billion for 1.6 million borrowers. Illinois candidates for the U.S. Senate differ on President Joe Biden’s plan to “forgive” some student loan debt.
Biden on Wednesday announced taxpayers will cover up to $10,000 in student loan debt for individuals making $125,000 or less and families making $250,000 or less. An additional $10,000 will be paid for by taxpayers for those who received Pell Grants.
Critics of Biden’s plan say it will increase the federal debt that now stands at nearly $31 trillion and add to 40-year-high inflation because of the increased federal spending. They also say that taxpayers shouldn’t be responsible for others’ borrowing decisions.
Biden’s plan also will allow borrowers to cap repayment of their loans at 5% of their income, and it extends student loan repayment “one final time” through Dec. 31 of this year, according to the White House.
EducationData.org shows Illinois’ total student debt is $61.6 billion, with an average of $37,757 per borrower.
“Illinois residents are slightly less likely to have student loan debt but have a higher average balance remaining,” Melanie Hanson, senior editor for the Education Data Initiative, wrote. “54.5% of them are under the age of 35.”
WalletHub reviewed all 50 states and the District of Columbia along 11 metrics of indebtedness and earning opportunities. They range from student debt to unemployment rates.
“At the end of the first quarter of 2022, total outstanding college-loan balances stood at nearly $1.61 trillion, according to the Department of Education,” the study said. “That comes out to an average of $37,000 for each of the 43.4 million borrowers.”
Illinois ranked 26th for student loan indebtedness and 39th for grant and student work opportunities.
U.S. Sen. Tammy Duckworth, D-Schaumburg, told media at an unrelated event Wednesday that she’s in favor of up to $50,000 of student loans per individual to be covered by taxpayers. She also advocated for floating interest rates, the ability to declare bankruptcy and service credits for education.
“There’s a lot that needs to be done,” Duckworth said. “We should be able to have folks graduate without the oppressive debt that folks will live with for 20 to 30 years.”
Duckworth’s Republican opponent, Kathy Salvi, warned the measure will result in higher tuition and will hurt lower to middle income families.
“This is just, simply put, playing politics,” Salvi said Wednesday.