Officials said about a third of all undergraduate students received federal loans last year, or about 30% underneath national trends.

Officials said 3,171 – or 29% – of GW’s undergraduate students received federal loans in the 2020-21 academic year, which is inconsistent with the national rate of about 60% of GW students. undergraduate who to borrow federal loans to private non-profit institutions. The low percentage suggests the White House’s plan to to forgive Tens of thousands of dollars in student debt will hit a minority of students, who have said they want federal authorities to forgive more of their student loan debt than a fraction of their financial burden.

Jay Goff, vice provost for student enrollment and success, said about 37% of undergraduate students receive federal student loans in any given year at GW. He said, on average, borrowers graduate with $20,500 in federal debt outstanding, which equates to about $205 in monthly repayments over ten years.

Goff said officials adjust GW’s financial aid counseling programs and Office of Student Financial Aid communication each year to account for new federal policies, like the student loan forgiveness plan.

“We plan to continue these efforts this year and promote the loan forgiveness application process after it launches later this year,” Goff said in an email.

The federal government will forgive $10,000 of student loan debt for borrowers who earn less than $125,000 or — if married — earn less than $250,000. Pell Grant recipients will receive $20,000 in federal student loan forgiveness under the plan.

Once federal authorities release the application for loan cancellation, students eligible for debt cancellation must apply by December 31, the last day of the debt moratorium, to the Department of Education Federal Student Aid. website.

Students who take out federal student loans can be enrolled in a standard program repayment plan after graduation that requires regular payments for 10 years, according to the federal student aid office. But some borrowers may not use the repayment plan due to its complex process that can confuse indebted students.

Alumnus Domonique Clemons – who earned a master’s degree in political management in 2019 – said that even after the $10,000 is canceled he will continue to make similar monthly payments for the rest of his loan repayment program from the 10-year public service through his work for a business membership organization, which some borrowers may not qualify for.

“For some people, it will be the difference of being able to pay off their loans at age 60 instead of 61 or 62,” Clemons said.

He said the debt forgiveness program “cures a symptom” of student debt for current borrowers, but the next generation of college graduates will continue to face significant debt after graduating from college, as tuition fees continue to rise and salaries stagnate.

In March, officials announced that the cost of GW’s participation would exceed $80,000 for the 2022-23 academic year.

“We haven’t done anything to address the costs of our education system and how much more expensive it is to pursue higher education,” Clemons said.

Patrick Realiza, a 2011 political science graduate, said the student debt forgiveness program would reduce nearly half of his student debt, which is split between just over $10,000 in federal loans and about $10,000. $ in private loans.

He said the student loan repayment moratorium — which federal authorities enacted in March 2020 and will last until the end of the year — has helped him pay off his credit card debt and save money. money for emergencies. He said the repeated extensions of the moratorium since the start of the pandemic were “agonizing” because he did not know when he would have to resume reimbursement.

“Am I really ready to start making payments to students after more than two years away?” said Realiza. “I am very happy that the Biden administration has acted, but I think that should be the start. There should be more reforms to come. »

Realiza said her first financial aid package from the University was not “satisfactory” to pay GW’s tuition, and officials gave her additional aid after she appealed her initial offer. He said 17- or 18-year-old students entering college don’t realize the seriousness of borrowing $10,000 to $15,000 until they enter the repayment period after graduation.

He said he graduated a semester earlier than his peers in December 2010 and soon realized after graduation that he was responsible for his financial sustenance.

Realiza said while attending GW he thought the financial aid was “generous” for a private university that does not receive public funding, but GW should provide students with more resources to understand their responsibilities as as borrowers, especially as tuition fees rise.

“When I look at school fees now, I really wonder how our parents fund this stuff,” Realiza said.

Leor Clark, a public health graduate student, said she attended a public university for her undergraduate degree and received fewer loans than many GW undergraduates.

She said the high cost of attending GW stood in the way of any difference the debt forgiveness program might make in students’ financial circumstances. Clark said the debt cancellation plan of up to $10,000 for eligible borrowers is a positive step toward increasing college affordability, but she wants the White House to increase debt cancellation. $50,000 debt to reach more borrowers.

“I imagine the students here are probably between $100,000 and $200,000 in debt,” Clark said. “$10,000 won’t be very helpful.”

She added that the process of taking out student loans was ‘overwhelming’ as she was only 18 when she took out loans for college.

“It’s hard to conceptualize how much money you take out at 18,” Clark said.

Emily LaBrasciano, a sophomore at the Columbian College of Arts and Sciences, said debt cancellation and debt moratoriums have eased the burden on student borrowers, but many students will still need more assistance in enrolling in higher education.

“I don’t think a student should ever go into debt to want to pursue an education,” LaBrasciano said.

She said it was difficult to take out loans as a first-generation student because her parents didn’t have the same experience and couldn’t guide her through the loan process. But she said the University’s resources for first-generation students, like peer mentors, have been helpful to her because they’ve offered advice and guidance that her parents can’t provide.

“Taking out loans is so scary, and you just don’t know if you’re doing the right thing,” LaBrasciano said. “You don’t know how you’re going to pay it back in the future.”

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