SILVERTON, Ohio — For some, President Joe Biden’s plan to eliminate student loan debt for millions of Americans is a reason to rejoice. For others, it's a reason to be concerned.
Local business owner Sergio Smith is one of the people rejoicing after investing more than $100,000 in his new gym, The Cake Factory.
“$20 off would have felt better than what I’m doing right now,” said Smith when asked if he was happy to learn about the president's plan.
Smith's excitement stems from the balancing act it takes to run a gym and keep up on student loans without repayment plans that help lower the cost.
“I used to work in public service and would qualify for programs that made the bill each month more manageable,” he said.
Since owning his own business, Smith said it’s becoming harder.
“It literally just goes right to the interest it doesn’t even touch the principle of the loan, so it's very frustrating to pay a large amount of money every month and you don’t really see the effect of it,” said Smith.
According to Education Data Initiative, the average student loan debt per borrower in the Tri-State is around $32,000. The president’s plan would reduce that by $10,000 if the borrower makes less than $125,000 a year or has a household income of less than $250,000.
But the country is divided on the plan. A recent NPR poll found that more than half of Americans support the plan but an overwhelming majority said the government should prioritize making college more affordable over forgiving existing student loans.
“There’s a bigger question to be solved here,” said Key City Capital financial strategist Stephen Patterson. “Are we exercising responsible practices when allowing 18-year-old students to taking on these bills? And then two, are we at the state and federal level funding our schools at a rate that is going to keep up with inflation and a rate that meets the needs."
Patterson believes there are many Americans who are frustrated with what the president believes is a life raft for Americans.
“We have individuals in our country who have paid off student loan debts,” said Patterson. “They took employment opportunities that provided a means for paying off those debts and now they feel like that bill is being passed on to them.”
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