On Wednesday (August 24), President Joe Biden announced his student loan forgiveness plan, which will eliminate $10,000 in student loans for individuals making less than $125,000 a year. Eligible borrowers who have received a Pell Grant can receive up to $20,000 in loan forgiveness.
Loan forgiveness for students was a feature of Biden’s presidential campaign, and his announcement comes with the midterm elections mere months away.
“I understand not everything I’m announcing is going to make everybody happy,” Biden said in his announcement. “Some think it’s too much—I find it interesting how some of my Republican friends who voted for those tax cuts think we shouldn’t be helping these folks. Some think it’s too little, but I believe my plan is responsible and fair. It focuses the benefit of middle-class and working families, it helps both current and future borrowers and it’ll fix a badly broken system.”
The idea of student loan forgiveness has been a controversial proposal, with numerous politicians and pundits arguing passionately for and against it. This diversity of opinion was reflective in reactions to Biden’s announcement, even in the evangelical community.
In the hours following Biden’s announcement, a number of prominent Christian leaders took to social media to share their thoughts.
Desiring God and WORLD Magazine contributor Abigail Dodds said of the announcement, “The federal gov’t cannot forgive student debt, because the cost of forgiveness will be borne by citizens who will be injured by it. In order to forgive one must also be able to absorb the cost. The fed gov’t can only oppress and rob people [with] its so-called ‘forgiveness.’”
“Also, trying to ‘forgive’ student debt is equivalent to Lady Liberty taking off her blindfold. It’s raw partiality for political ends. What about home debt, small business debt, car debt, etc? The whole endeavor is rotten from top to bottom—it will harm society in multiple ways,” Dodds continued. “That is not to say that the way student debt has been sold to students isn’t atrocious. Of course it is. But two things fix that: personal responsibility and holding schools accountable. Shut many of them down. Make them operate in the black w/o the crutch of govt funds.”
Bethlehem College and Seminary president and Desiring God contributor Joe Rigney retweeted Dodd’s thread, promoting Bethlehem’s degree programs, which are supported by donors to keep costs down.
“Student loan forgiveness is buying votes,” said Colin Smothers, executive director of the Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood (CBMW). Smothers also later tweeted a portion of Proverbs 12:10: “The mercy of the wicked is cruel.”
“It’s all magic. We pay off debts with magic money and there’s never any consequences,” tweeted Tennessee pastor Erik Reed. “This is pure self-interest by Biden and the Democrats. They want votes. They don’t care about the fallout of this move.”