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Billings college students react to Biden loan relief plan

Billings college students react to Biden loan relief plan announced Wednesday
Posted at 5:40 PM, Aug 24, 2022
and last updated 2022-08-25 11:50:35-04

BILLINGS — Millions of Americans will benefit from the Biden student loan relief plan announced Wednesday, and that includes students at both MSU-Billings and at Rocky Mountain College.

Sidney Little Light has made quite the name for herself at Rocky Mountain College. The senior finished second at last year’s NAIA Cross Country National Championships.

But she, like many, worries student debt could catch up with her after school. That’s why she’s celebrating Wednesday’s big announcement from President Joe Biden in Washington, D.C.

“I think it’s super cool that I’m not going to have to, like, worry about that as much. Since I’m about to graduate, it was kind of in the back of my mind. So I feel, like, way relieved by it,” Little Light said on Wednesday.

And others share Little Light's excitement.

“I have a Pell Grant, so $20,000 off that $60,000 would be awesome, definitely,” said Rocky sophomore Madeline Munson.

But some will not qualify for the financial relief. The plan only includes federal government-backed student loans for people with an annual income under $125,000.

“[I'm] glad that he’s still helping some people, though. Better to help some than none but I wish it was for me too,” said Rocky freshman Owen Toledo.

Across campus, there were mixed reactions to the president’s plan – even from those who will benefit.

“As good as it is for me right now, at this moment I think that it kind of has a bigger impact and a bigger problem in the long run,” said Rocky freshman Chandler Hathaway.

At MSU-Billings, the financial aid office says the news has also created some confusion. Many wonder what’s next and exactly what this announcement means.

“We’ve talked to some students who dropped by. We’re getting phone calls, emails. In fact, a lot of the federal student aid sites are down,” said MSUB Financial Aid Office Director Thomas Valles.

“It’s a tricky thing to communicate financial aid. It’s one of the challenges. It always has been. It’s become a very confusing process,” Valles said.

He also said the announcement does include some confusing language, especially surrounding Pell Grants. And while many will benefit from loan forgiveness, some say there’s still a bigger problem that needs addressed: The cost of attending college.

“In my humble opinion, it’s a band aid on a broken leg. There is a far bigger problem with the overall picture,” Valles said.