Photo courtesy of Clarion University.

As a kid in a low-income household, I never assumed I would be able to go to college. I thought I would be working a blue-collar job by the time I graduated high school. However, two things made going to college a reality: financial aid and student loans.

I knew that student debt would be a stressful thing to carry in the future. After all, I was told by several teachers, counselors, and online sources to avoid student debt because it would be with me for the rest of my life.

They never factored in that my family or I would never be capable of paying for college out of pocket, and financial aid today does not cover the costs. The only route for someone like me is to take out loans, knowing that one day I will be paying thousands of dollars back and not even making a dent in my debt.

Like many people in my situation, I started my college career at the Community College of Allegheny College, which has affordable tuition. After I acquired enough credits to transfer, I decided it was time to look for a 4-year college. Still worried about being able to afford college, I focused my search on nearby state colleges with the lowest tuition, which is one of the major reasons I chose to attend Clarion University. Yet, even with the cheapest state college tuition at the time, I still had to take out school loans.

The stress and fear of always being in debt are still within me. However, when President Joe Biden announced that the government would forgive up to $20,000 for some borrowers, I felt more than a sigh of relief knowing that close to half of my student debt was now gone.

President Biden announced on Aug. 25 a federal student loan relief plan that makes borrowers eligible for up to $20,000 in student loan forgiveness if they obtained Pell Grants for college, carry loans with the Department of Education and make less than $125,000 a year. Those who did not use Pell Grants are eligible for up to $10,000 in student loan forgiveness.

“My campaign for president, I made a commitment that we would provide student debt relief, and I’m honoring that commitment today,” Biden said in his address. “Using the authority Congress granted to the Department of Education, we will forgive $10,000 in outstanding federal student loans.”

In his 2020 presidential campaign, Biden promised to forgive student loan debt from public colleges and universities. I was not optimistic when he made this promise because I knew this would be a difficult hurdle, so I was honestly shocked when I saw the announcement.

I reasoned they would only extend the halt on student loan repayments. I would never have dreamed that, in addition to extending the loan repayment break till Dec. 31, they would forgive a big chunk of school debt.

Although I still have student loans that will grow with grad school at Point Park University, this federal loan relief plan gives me more breathing room regarding repaying them.

Being a journalist today doesn’t bring much money to the table, so I knew I would be stuck in the loop of paying these loans back. Nonetheless, this will not only help me but millions of Americans like me.

Jason Phox is a journalist in the Pittsburgh area sharing important information with the people of the Steel City. He enjoys writing, photography, and mostly comic books.