Hartford “Joined by a group of nurses benefiting from the measure, Democratic U.S. Senators Richard Blumenthal and Chris Murphy discussed the importance of partially canceling student loan debt at a press conference on Tuesday morning.
Among the nurses was Sherri Dayton, an emergency room nurse and president of the Backus Hospital Federation of Nurses. According to statistics from the National Student Nurses’ Association, the average graduate registered nurse has between $20,000 and $47,000 in debt.
“I’m very excited about this student loan forgiveness, not just for me, but for other nurses like me who have to consider the cost before pursuing our dreams,” Dayton said. “I know a lot of people in the hospital where I work will benefit a lot.”
Blumenthal added: “Our nurses and teachers are the backbone of our economy, our health care and education system, and they carry this crushing burden as much or more than anyone. That’s why we asked the nurses to be here today.
The senators’ press conference follows President Joe Biden’s announcement of a new program that will cut $10,000, or, for Pell Grant recipients, $20,000, in student loans for millions of people.
Nearly 500,000 borrowers in Connecticut have about $17.5 billion in student loan debt, with an average of just over $35,000 in debt per borrower, according to the Education Data Initiative. Blumenthal began the press conference by saying the new federal program will help state residents who have been unable to buy a home, start a family, start a business, and more.
Blumenthal said “the most exciting part” of the program is not the cancellation of student debt, but the capping of the percentage of people’s discretionary income they pay for their loans.
Murphy argued that the student loan forgiveness program will have more impact in Connecticut than in other states.
“It’s expensive, as a young person, to decide to start your life in Connecticut. Housing is a little more expensive, the cost of living is a little higher, the quality of life is better here,” Murphy said.
The program, announced two weeks ago, stipulates that people with federal student loans who are not high-income borrowers are eligible. People must earn less than $125,000 per year, or $250,000 per household, to qualify. Most people will have $10,000 debt cleared, although some borrowers may have up to $20,000. It has been called a sweeping move by some – it relieves around 43 million Americans and eliminates debt entirely for around 20 million people. But millions of people are still heavily in debt; the cumulative federal student loan debt is $1.6 trillion.
Leora Levy, Blumenthal’s Senate opponent in the November election, said in a statement Tuesday that she rejected the premise of student loan forgiveness, asking, “People who are struggling to pay school bills groceries, putting gas in their car and buying back-to-school tickets are expected that their children’s supplies will also pay for other people’s loans?
“It is outrageous that Blumenthal is celebrating the replacement of personal accountability with yet another government handout,” Levy continued in his statement. Democrats are forcing a transfer of wealth from those who have chosen to pursue a profession, live frugally to pay off their own debt, or take on no debt, to American adults who have knowingly chosen to take on more debt than they could afford. afford to repay.
Dayton spoke about her experience and the experience of other nurses at Backus Hospital.
“My dream of becoming a nurse started when I was in kindergarten. I’ve been in the medical field for 30 years, but I had to walk a very long and difficult road to get there because of student loans and debt,” Dayton said.
Dayton described this circuitous route she was forced to take to get an education. She said it took her 12 years to go back to school and earn her bachelor’s degree after earning her associate degree.
“I was raising a family and I didn’t want to put us in debt,” Dayton said.
Dayton more recently hoped to earn her master’s degree so she could train future nurses.
“Unfortunately, nursing professors don’t earn more than acute care (nurses), and I would run up about $50,000 in debt. I would go into debt to earn the same amount of money, which is unfortunate because we desperately need nursing teachers.
“I am very happy with this student loan forgiveness, not just for me, but for other nurses like me who have to consider the cost before pursuing our dreams,” added Dayton. “I know a lot of people in the hospital where I work will benefit a lot.”
When asked what to do about the more than $1 trillion in remaining student debt, most of which came from private providers, Blumenthal said he favored a measure that would have provided $50,000 debt cancellation. He said such a policy should be “accompanied by tuition control”.
“We can’t get the votes in the Senate right now with uniform Republican opposition to canceling private student loans,” Murphy added to Blumenthal’s comments. “Biden waited a year and a half to see if we could convince Republicans to join us in passing a more broadly applicable student loan forgiveness. Biden decided he wasn’t going to punish those with public loans just because Republicans didn’t want to cancel private student loans.
When asked if borrowers still had an incentive to repay their loans after seeing how easily the president could cancel those loans, Murphy said people still had that incentive while the loans were due because not doing so could affect a borrower’s credit rating, “even if you’re guessing there will be another debt forgiveness.