206 people sent Insider letters addressed to the President about student loan forgiveness. Here are 9 of our favorite.

4 weeks ago 24
  • 206 readers wrote letters to President Biden arguing their case for, or against, student loan cancellation.
  • 45 million Americans hold student debt, totaling $1.7T. 
  • The student loan moratorium is set to expire in August.
  • This survey is part of Cost of Inequity: Student Loan Edition, a series examining the origins and socioeconomic impacts of the student loan crisis.

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In February, we asked readers to write a letter to President Biden presenting their support of, or against student loan cancellation. 206 of you wrote in. 

The letters we received detailed your hopes for a debt-free future, the broken promises left in your hands after graduating college, and the overwhelming frustrations garnered as interest rates and inflation hampered your ability to repay. 

In March 2020, President Biden tweeted his support for $10,000 student debt cancellation and championed this platform in speeches and interviews. But since taking office, it is unclear whether he will follow through on his past promises. 

Biden has now extended the student loan moratorium three times and canceled millions in debt for defrauded borrowers. He has also called on Congress to send a debt cancellation bill to his desk, and in addition discussed income-based debt relief with groups of lawmakers. 

The student loan industry put a price tag on the American dream. The marginalized and disenfranchised communities who buy in, seeking the new beginnings promised after an expensive degree, are often left drowning in a debt cycle. 

Insider selected some of the most compelling letters we received for publication. The words below are a snippet of the trillion-dollar burden 45 million Americans hold. 

Editor's note: The letters below were edited for clarity and style. 

Madison Hughes, 28, Funding specialist 

Owes about $90,000 in student debt 

Has held student debt for 7 years 

I have federal and private student loans and have been meticulous in ensuring I've never missed a payment. Even when I was struggling the worst, my student loans were the first thing I paid- to the detriment of my own health and safety. I am in a better place now, but the over $100,000 of loans I took out at 18-years-old are a drain on my life in a way I can't easily explain. I am putting my all into paying off my private loans- and a cancellation of my federal loans would give me more flexibility and a great ability to pay off my mountains of debt, as well as save and plan for the future.

Amanda Bailey, 29, Waitress and Environmental Consultant 

Owes about $80,000 in student debt 

Has held student debt for 8 years

As a first generation college student from a poor background, pell grants and working a full-time job only covered a fraction of tuition. Debt was necessary to break the cycle of poverty — in other words, get my degree, and I beat the odds to graduate cum laude. Now I have a whole other set of odds to tackle. This debt, I've realized, will hold me back for the rest of my life: my ability to buy a home, save for retirement, all things that are already so hard to do when you come from a family like mine. Debt relief would be life changing in the sense that I could invest in my future without this cloud looming over me. Every cent paid to loans is a cent not saved for my future home, children, or retirement.

Allycia Watanabe, 32, Healthcare Business Analyst 

Owes $8,000 in student debt

Has held student debt for 10 years

Student Loans are hitting my generation the hardest. We were promised that if we went to college and got good grades, our careers were guaranteed to flourish. Then students bought into that idea, not predicting that the economy would be in a recession , and inflation would rob millennials of our piece of the "American Dream". Being shackled to student debt has halted the growth of our country as most with student debt can't even dream about owning a car, buying a house, (and sometimes) having children, because paying off their debt comes before everything. I could actually start planning for my financial future. I currently work for my state government, but was told that my status as an employee doesn't not qualify for the (public) service forgiveness program while I was five years in. But because my current position was a "safe choice" to pay my bills, taking a private sector contract job was too risky to possibly have put my loans in forbearance, and be in debt longer.

Jeff Galfer, 42, Actor

Owes about $78,000 in student debt

Has held student debt for 20 years 

Dear President Biden, 

(Student debt relief) would allow us, at middle age, to pretend we now have a chance at owning a home before we die. It would also be an acknowledgement that signing up 17 year olds to pay the government's bills for the rest of their lives was akin to child abuse. Nothing. I'd still owe another 68K.

Mike Carlucci, 39, Senior Data Analyst 

Owes about $195,000 in student debt 

Has held student loan debt for over 10 years.

Dear President Biden,

The changes in the student loan system over the years, including the 1990 goal to make it a profit center, did not align with facing wages, multiple recessions, sending jobs abroad to sweatshop countries, and the rise in housing cost. Students have been signing up hoping education would put them ahead, but the world pulled up the ladder as we tried. I graduated from law school in the Great Recession and at 9% interest from the government, not private loans, have never been able to afford payments that went to principal. So I fall further and further behind … Forgiving everything for everyone is honestly the least you can do since we spent many times that cost on the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan that my generation was against but Congress was for.

Leah Vitello, 30, High school teacher 

Owes about $19,450 in student debt.

Has held student loan debt for 7 years.

Dear President Biden,

I support student debt cancellation because it would make it possible for people like me to buy homes, work only one job (and not two or three…), have/adopt children and or pets, and actually contribute to the economy with the extra take-home money … For example, I am a single high school teacher. Exactly half of my monthly income goes out the window for rent for an 800 square foot apartment. Currently, there are no cheaper apartments in my area available, so I can't move. Because of this (among other factors), I am seriously considering leaving teaching after this school year in order to get a higher paying job just so I can afford rent … The incredibly high predatory interest rates and inflated tuition costs make it impossible to pay off student debt. This would never happen in the case of buying a car or a home. Getting a good education should not prevent people from accomplishing other major life milestones, but instead serve as a stepping stone toward attaining greater success and meaningful contributions to our country.

Anonymous, 30, Audiologist 

Owes about $38,800 in student debt.

Has held student debt for 4 years.

Dear President Biden,

I want more than anything to adopt, which is impossible when a third of my income is going towards loans. Having any amount forgiven, or even just the permanent elimination of interest, would make a massive difference in ability to have the children I wanted this career to support in the first place. Politicians keep quibbling between $10,000 and $50,000, but those of us drowning would give anything to be relieved of any amount at all.

Rebecca L., 35, Public Administrator, Local Government

Owes about $34,000 in student debt.

Has held student debt for over 10 years. 

Dear President Biden,

I have been paying on student loan debt since I took out my first loan in 2005 … When our student loans come due in May, we will pay more than $700 a month, and will have to each pick up side-jobs to pay them off. As half the payment goes to interest, this feels like an insurmountable task for credentials we needed for public service jobs … These loans should be forgiven as they are requirements for public servant positions that make about half of the average salary. 

Amanda Hodges, 23, Registered Nurse

Owes $29,000 in student debt.

Has held student debt for 6 years.

Dear President Biden,

I am a nurse working on the frontlines fighting for patients during this ongoing pandemic crisis. I lose sleep at night because of my job, and the added stress of my crippling student loan debt does not help. If $10,000 of my student loans were wiped out, I would begin to save for a house so that I could someday become a homeowner.

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