A Conversation on Student Debt Relief


Student debt—and federal student debt relief efforts—are in the headlines these days. With the costs of attending college mounting, especially for students already facing outsized financial barriers who know how much a degree would mean for their families and job prospects, much is at stake.

Challenges with student debt have been growing for decades. While the cost of college has increased significantly over the last 30 years, the Pell and Cal Grants students receive from the federal and state government have not kept pace with increasingly high costs that impact college affordability. More students have had to take out more loans in their pursuit of college degrees and good jobs. High and long-term student debt impacts borrowers’ prospects for economic mobility, financial stability, career advancement, home ownership and mental health. Today, the inequitable impacts of student debt are significant.

As a state and a nation, we still have a long way to go in tackling the complex issue of the role of student debt in financing higher education. College Futures Foundation is proud to support a number of grantee partners working on this important issue, including: NextGen Policy; The Institute for College Access & Success (TICAS); Rise; UC Merced’s Higher Education, Race, and the Economy (HERE) Lab; Young Invincibles; and many other critical policy and institutional partners working on issues of higher education affordability and finance.

The deadline to apply for Public Service Loan Forgiveness under a temporary waiver is coming up on October 31. Meanwhile, although legal challenges brought by a handful of states have led to a temporary pause in the administration of federal student debt relief, the federal government is still accepting and reviewing applications, so borrowers are advised to apply during this period.

College Futures Foundation President & CEO Eloy Ortiz Oakley and Director of Public Policy Ria Sengupta Bhatt sat down to discuss the who, what, why, and how of student debt relief at the state and federal levels.