Corey Carolina

As Americans continue trying to stimulate the economy, many are still burdened with student loans. Although the government placed a pause on student loan payments while Americans were affected by the pandemic, some still feel the financial pain.

As a student loan holder, I can understand the financial woes of paying these loans. Some people have payments as high as $500-$600 per month, which can be financially crippling.

President Biden has hinted at favoring student loan relief forgiveness up to $10,000. That news excites student loan holders. People who go to college, trade school, or other training programs have helped stimulate and stabilize the economy for years. I have heard some opponents to the relief use as a reason that they paid off their own student loans without any relief from the government. I have a proposal that would address that concern. If the government provides $10,000 of relief for borrowers, there should be an avenue for those who have taken out student loans in the past, and have paid them off, to obtain relief as well. My idea would be to allow up to a $10,000 tax credit, depending on how much the past borrower requested and paid off.

Relief should be spread out fairly. Recovery bills that have passed over the past year have not been evenly distributed. Just because someone did not lose a job during the pandemic does not mean that person doesn't need help. Food prices increase, gas prices go up, and prices for products and services rise, so the money we make does not go as far as it used to go. Allowing Americans who have sacrificed to pay back their student loans to get relief is the right thing to do.

Some individuals may feel offering relief is wasteful, because when we take out a loan, we know what we are getting into. But predatory lending exists on college campuses. I was never offered a financial literacy class about the pitfalls of taking out students loans. I was never told my expected payment, or what my career field may pay. Many of us who went to college and took out federal and private loans did so to become better versions of ourselves, increase our knowledge, and prepare for better careers. Some sacrificed travel with their families, took financial losses as they were unable to work and go to school, and raised children - and all to do better in life. Those people pay their fair share and often are not given government aid.

Democrats have proposed a $50,000 student loan forgiveness package, but Biden is not on board. I believe if student loan payments were decreased due to potential forgiveness, that money would go back into the economy. Imagine what a single father of three could do with an extra $400-$500 per month from his student loan relief. I hope Biden doesn't allow this option to languish, because we need relief for student loans.

Corey Carolina is an NSU graduate, North Tulsa entrepreneur and activist, and owner of Carolina Food Co.

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