OGDEN, Utah (ABC4) — Student loan debt continues to be a top concern for Utah politicians and Washington DC Senator Mitt Romney is leading an effort to stop the president from forgiving that debt. Currently, Utahns account for more than $10 billion of the $1.75 trillion in student loan debt nationwide. Some Utahans who have taken out loans to attend college hope Senator Romney will address the needs of the average American.
Kelly Beatty and Cord Nelson have been married for two years. The couple live in Ogden. They own a home, work full time, and each have a college education under their belt.
“One thing that you don’t consider when you’re a young adult is that you could get married with someone’s student loan debt and that’s a lot of money,” Beatty told ABC4. . Beatty attended community college and received scholarships that paid for that part of his education. He recently enrolled at Weber State University. He works full time and hasn’t needed a student loan. Her husband, Nelson, attended three different universities, worked three part-time jobs, and still had to take out loans to pay his tuition.
“You’re welcome,” Nelson said with a smile to Beatty. He then said with a laugh, “So now it’s our debt.”
The couple have a debt of around $50,000. During the pandemic, loan repayments were suspended. The two told ABC4 that this pause allowed them to survive as inflation continued to rise.
“Some are predicting a recession in 2023,” President Joe Biden said at a press conference recently. He has floated the idea of canceling student loan debt since the start of his term. He has now said he is not considering a $50,000 debt reduction. “I am carefully considering whether or not there will be additional debt forgiveness,” he said.
Senator Mitt Romney is leading an effort to pass the Student Loans Accountability Act. According to the senator’s office, the bill would prevent further debt forgiveness. However, this would not interfere with existing debt cancellation programs.
“This decision would not only be unfair to those who have already paid off their loans or decided to pursue alternative education paths, but it would be extremely inflationary in an era of already historic inflation,” the senator said. “…While the President’s legal authority to cancel this debt is questionable at best, our bill would ensure that he would be prevented from acting.”
“I don’t think that’s a good position to take right now because inflation is so high that everything is getting more expensive,” Beatty said when asked what he thought of the bill. “If we were looking at where we were two years ago, we were in a bit better position to pay on theses.” He told ABC4 that with inflation, the $500 a month he and Nelson were paying the lender would leave the couple struggling to make ends meet.
According to Student Loan Hero, Utah ranks 38th in average student loan debt. However, in total, Utahans owe more than $10 billion.
For some Utahns with student loan debt, Sen. Romney’s stance on loan forgiveness isn’t welcomed but comes as no surprise. “Obviously someone in his position won’t understand the average everyday person,” Nelson said. “We always seem to have the cash when it comes to big business or financial institutions, but these are real Americans who need some kind of relief,” Beatty added.
The couple said they hope politicians will start seeing those with student loan debt as real Americans, real people, in need of help rather than just a number.