- Biden’s reported debt forgiveness plan likely doesn’t include parents taking out loans for their children.
- Adria Mansfield, 43, has $187,000 in parent PLUS student loans she took out for her children’s college.
- It was the only way she could give her children a higher education, and she can’t afford to pay it off.
Adria Mansfield will do everything she can to give her kids the best future, even when it comes to six-figure student debt.
The problem for her lies in President Joe Biden’s broad student loan forgiveness plans and the fact that parents are not involved in that conversation.
“Half of our kids wouldn’t be able to go to school and be successful if the parents weren’t there,” says Mansfield, 43. “And I just don’t think it’s fair that we’re being overlooked.”
Mansfield’s $187,300 student debt comes from parent PLUS loans she took out for two of her children, which allowed her to borrow the full cost of attendance minus any financial aid the child had already received. About 3.7 million families have PLUS parent loans totaling $104 billion. These types of federal loans have the highest interest rate at 6.28%, and they will rise to 7.54% in July.
Mansfield worked at a school as a behavior counselor and was her children’s sole provider. She did not earn enough to pay cash tuition at a public and a private university for her children. She took out the maximum amount of PLUS loans for two of her children and plans to do the same for her daughter who is graduating from high school this year. She says this was the only way she could ensure that her children received higher education.
While Biden is considering $10,000 in student loan forgiveness for undergraduate borrowers earning less than $150,000, parents and graduate students are not included in those plans, and Mansfield said she is looking at payments for the foreseeable future without options for relief.
“Society puts such pressure on our kids to go to school because you have to get a degree to have a better job, so I thought it was important because that’s what my kids wanted to do,” Mansfield said. “But now we are being punished for taking out loans so that our children will be successful.”
‘Feeding my children and taking care of our needs is my first choice’
After her children graduated from college in 2017 and 2019, Mansfield was put on a means-tested repayment plan that allowed her to temporarily make $0 monthly payments due to her low income. While she said it was helpful not to make those payments, interest continued to rise, making it nearly impossible for her to pay off her debt — and she said that element has affected her “hugely.”
“I had this debt on my credit, and it hindered me from getting a house because my student loan was so high that the lenders wouldn’t even lend me money to buy a house,” Mansfield said. “And I certainly don’t make enough money to pay off the loan, and feeding my children and taking care of our needs is my first choice.”
Mansfield is not alone in her struggle – many other parents have taken out student loans in their own name to care for their children, and they have to pay off debts that are mounting due to rising interest rates. A recent report from The Century Foundation, a left-wing think tank, said the average PLUS borrower still has 55% of the initial balance left after 10 years of repayment – and 38% after 20 years, meaning most parents spend more time to pay off student loans than they did in raising their children.
Kristin Blagg, a researcher at the Urban Institute, previously told Insider that the idea of giving a student a loan is to earn enough money with a degree to repay the debt, but that’s not the case for parents. .
“The math for parents, especially if they really aren’t able to afford the tuition and other expenses by the time their child starts school, that math doesn’t quite work because the parents don’t necessarily get that benefit of a college degree. said Blagg.
‘The loan cancellation must be taken into account’
Biden hasn’t yet confirmed how much student loan relief he’s considering, and the only definitive statement he’s made on the subject so far is that $50,000 in exemption — an amount progressives have been pushing for — is off the table. But it’s likely that the relief will focus on students, leaving those with PLUS loans in the dark.
Peter Granville, a senior policy officer at The Century Foundation, recently told Politico that the reason parents aren’t included in the loan forgiveness conversation may be because when it comes to parent PLUS loans, “there’s very little data on these parents themselves. are”, and “much less is known about real parents and their results when it comes to taking these loans.”
Either way, Mansfield hopes whatever decision Biden makes won’t rule out the borrowers who did what they needed to do to help their kids succeed.
“I just want us parents who put our name on the dotted line so that our kids can be successful to be considered in the fact that we too are struggling,” Mansfield said. “We have taken out the loans for our children to be successful. We also have to consider loan forgiveness.”
Do you have a story about student debt? Contact Ayelet Sheffey at [email protected]