Yuner Gao/journalist

Danilla Zuart, left, and Valerie Guerrero, two SUNY Cortland students with student loans, called on students on Thursday to sign up for Higher Education Action Week to get more financial support for Neubig Hall from February 16.

Daniella Zuart isn’t sure her student loans could be forgiven under a federal program to write off $15 billion in student debt, but she said Thursday she hopes so.

“I’ve heard a little about it but not too much,” said Zuart, a sophomore at SUNY Cortland. “I think it would be helpful, but I don’t know how it would help. But I don’t know if I would qualify for any of them.

In fact, under the four programs outlined last week by the US Department of Education that would reach 675,000 borrowers, Zuart would likely not qualify.

Here is the breakdown:

  • Borrower Defense, for students who believe their school misled them or engaged in other misconduct: $1.5 billion – 18,000 borrowers.
  • Total and permanent disability, for borrowers facing long-term disability: $7 billion — 400,000 borrowers.
  • ITT Tech students: $1.26 billion per 100,000 borrowers.
  • Public service loan relief, for graduates working for certain government or non-profit employers: $5 billion for 70,000 borrowers.

“I knew about this a while ago,” said Frederic Pierce, director of communications for SUNY Cortland. ” It’s great. It’s a huge relief. »

Nearly 4,300 SUNY Cortland students have borrowed $42 million for the 2021-22 school year, including 4,011 undergraduates and 283 graduate students. “About 75% of SUNY Cortland students go into debt to attend,” Pierce said.

Valerie Guerrero, a senior student, is one of them.

“I don’t know if it will happen because I feel like it’s like a promise,” said Guerrero, a pledge from President Joe Biden. “If he does, it would be very helpful for me.”

Otherwise, she said, paying off her student loans would likely take more than a decade.

“So it would be a huge relief if he did,” Guerrero said. “Even if it’s just a little help, it’s a help.”

Zuart and Guerrero were promoting Higher Education Action Week Feb. 16-18 at Neubig Hall, to encourage more students to seek financial support.

SUNY Cortland has no information on how much $15 billion it may have benefited its alumni, Pierce said.

“We are very concerned about student debt,” he said. “We are a public institution and we want to ensure that anyone qualified to come academically can attend without undue financial burden.”

“Last year, SUNY Cortland graduate students graduated with an average debt of $24,250,” Pierce said. The number is considerably lower than the national average of $28,800.

“Any kind of student debt is obviously a drag on students wanting to get ahead when they graduate,” Pierce said. “We support whatever the federal government can do to ease this burden.”

However, the $15 billion plan will have no effect on students studying at Tompkins Cortland Community College, said TC3 public information officer Peter Voorhees.

Over 90% of students who attend Tompkins Cortland Community College receive some form of financial aid such as grants, scholarships, loans, co-op, tuition waivers, and veterans benefits, according to the official TC3 website.

“But it could impact some former students who are still in the process of repayment,” Voorhees said. “If a former student was working in an appropriate field and qualified for the program and had their loan debt forgiven, that would obviously be an advantage for them, as for anyone else.”

“Students who have attended four-year and graduate universities and colleges are much more likely to be affected by this than our students,” he said.

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