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Brown says student debt relief is only part of a plan to help Ohioans pay for higher education

U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) speaks to people at the Mid-Ohio Food Collective.
Jo Ingles
/
Statehouse News Bureau
U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) speaks to people at the Mid-Ohio Food Collective.

U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown, a Democrat, said the focus on forgiving some student loan debt is overlooking other key parts of President Joe Biden’s college affordability plan.

Democratic President Joe Biden's plan to relieve student debt allows government loan borrowers to get $10,000 of their loans forgiven. Students who had Pell Grants in college could get $20,000 worth of debt wiped clean. The loan forgiveness has been panned by Republicans and some Democrats.

Brown said many Ohioans, even those without student loan debt, will benefit from the president's plan. For example, he said the Biden plan will help Ohioans who don't go to college and opt to learn a trade or certificate instead.

“It's also making higher education — but not necessarily college, traditional but not necessarily four year — making that kind of training available to a broad swath of people and once the president has rolled all of that out, I think it will get a very different perception," Brown said.

Prominent Democrats running for office right now have distanced themselves from Biden's student loan forgiveness plan. Nan Whaley, Democratic candidate for Ohio Governor, said the "policy is not fair to the thousands of Ohioans who made the decision to not attend college because of the cost or for those who have already paid off their loans."

Republican U.S. Senate candidate J.D. Vance, who said forgiving student debt is "a massive windfall to the rich," called out his opponent, Democratic Congressman Tim Ryan, for being hypocritical when he criticized the move in the hours after the announcement, saying it "sends the wrong message."

Both Whaley and Ryan have made comments supporting student loan relief in the past.

When Whaley was mayor of Dayton, she signed onto a letter with other mayors, urging federal student loan debt relief, noting it exacerbated the racial wealth gap and disproportionately affects women.

"Extending loan forgiveness to more low-wage earners will provide needed relief to the workforce and boost the economy," the letter read.

Ryan has called for student loan debt relief before too. In May 2020, he voted for the HEROES Act, which included plans to cancel up to $10,000 in student loan debt for some 20 million "economically distressed" borrowers. Later in that same year, he backed an amendment to a defense bill that required the federal government to provide $10,000 in immediate assistance to more than 4 million private student loan holders.

There are no reliable polls to show how ordinary Ohioans feel about President Biden's plan. But a new Quinnipiac National Poll shows 53% of Americans support the loan relief plan while 43% are against it. A Politico/Morning Consult Poll shows 48% support forgiving the student loans while 43% oppose it.

One of the complaints about the president's plan is it does little to make college tuition more affordable. Brown, himself, said more needs to be done on that front.

"College has gotten too expensive and that's really got to be bipartisan in addressing that," he said.

Copyright 2022 The Statehouse News Bureau. To see more, visit The Statehouse News Bureau.

Jo Ingles is a professional journalist who covers politics and Ohio government for the Ohio Public Radio and Television for the Ohio Public Radio and Television Statehouse News Bureau. She reports on issues of importance to Ohioans including education, legislation, politics, and life and death issues such as capital punishment. Jo started her career in Louisville, Kentucky in the mid 80’s when she helped produce a televised presidential debate for ABC News, worked for a creative services company and served as a general assignment report for a commercial radio station. In 1989, she returned back to her native Ohio to work at the WOSU Stations in Columbus where she began a long resume in public radio.