In last week’s State of the Union address, U.S. President Joe Biden outlined his agenda for the next two years of his term. None of them mentioned student loans.

White House officials have repeatedly told the media that they would pass a student loan forgiveness bill since the president can’t do it on his own. But with canceling student loans being a major promise in his campaign, some have felt betrayed.

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) said that Biden missed an opportunity during his state of the union and the speech left a lot to be desired.

“There are some things that were left unsaid that we are really going to have to work on as a party, in order to really speak to constituencies that have historically supported the president, whose turnout we need, whose support we need right now and in the coming years, that perhaps haven’t heard their issues spoken to in the way that they wanted to hear it,” she said in an interview with Rachel Maddow. She also called the expectation of Democratic success at the polls in the midterms “delusional” if they don’t come through on the promises they made.

Alan Collinge, founder of StudentLoanJustice.org, said that the president gave Americans false hope.

“President Biden has brazenly and blatantly gone back on his word,” said Collinge. “The federal lending system has catastrophically failed, but the president apparently wants to pretend for the next three years that it has not. This is a huge mistake on all levels.”

Joe Hughes, 40, was blunt with his thoughts.

“I’m trying to think of something that isn’t just a string of curse words,” Hughes said before collecting himself. “You know what’s just as infuriating? The fact that he never mentioned was, as near as I could tell, barely even a story. So many people, rightfully, brought up his (absurd) call to give police forces even more money, but the complete absence of any mention of student loan forgiveness, a tent pole of the campaign, felt like it was largely met with indifference.

“It’s depressing.”

According to the U.S. Government Accountability Office, a report sent to congressional committees found that almost half of all Americans could default on their loans and that the U.S. Department of Education might have the wrong addresses and locations (outdated ones), which makes it harder to find those who need to pay student loans.

Collectively, Americans have student loans upwards of $1.7 trillion. Biden campaigned on providing at least $10,000 in student loan forgiveness for those who still owe payments. The report mentions that the U.S. Department of Education has worked on ways to inform, provide and assist those in debt who need a repayment plan or those who also have auto debt.

In December, Biden extended Student Loan Repayment for another 90 days after there was an uproar over making people pay for them after the financial pause COVID-19 put on their lives.

This issue wasn’t addressed despite the president’s consistent push to get the economy going again and desire to make college more affordable.

Two organizations have laid out reports showing that student loans remain an important issue with Americans.

According to a survey provided by The Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies, a Black American think tank, late February, “While 73% of Black Americans agree with forgiving up to $50,000 of student loan debt, slightly more—76%—agree with forgiving all student loan debt.”

“The results of our poll paint a clear picture: the economy may be rebounding, but most Black Americans have yet to feel any actual signs of improvement,” stated Jessica Fulton, vice president, Policy, Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies. “As Black Americans continue to serve as a lifeline for the economic well-being of our nation—especially during the COVID-19 pandemic—it is crucial that they are centered in our recovery.”

The same study revealed that 21% of Black Americans approve of the job the Republicans are doing.

But the issue has as much to do with Albany and local cities within the state as it does nationally. The Education Trust-New York conducted a poll of their own and found out how much student loans play into education and/or considering where to go for an education.

Seventy percent of responses said that New York State and New York City could do more to help students succeed in higher education.

“The cost of college and rising student loan debt are key concerns for young people in New York City, particularly among Black and Latinx respondents and those from working and middle class backgrounds, who were most likely to say that cost was a key factor in their decision not to attend college (61% of Black respondents, 62% of Latinx respondents, 52% of working class respondents, and 66% of middle class respondents),” read part of the study.

“Well-designed postsecondary pathways allow students to optimize the myriad of resources available to them,” stated Kurt M. Thiede, manager of the New York State Association for College Admissions Counseling’s Student Success Project. “The responses to this poll strongly support current efforts that assist students by providing planning tools and the ability to use them effectively. State leaders need to commit to additional human resources to ensure that all
New York students receive the guidance necessary to build and implement their plans for future success.”

REACH NY’s survey had a confidence interval of +/-4.9% and all interviews were conducted via phone.

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