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Many purposefully forget to pay student debt

Santos is “overwhelmed” by her student loan balance because she currently doesn’t have a job. She asked her TikTok viewers: “Are you guys paying your student loans back?”

Surprisingly, a significant number of people who commented admitted they aren’t paying their loans back. Some, like Santos, appear to have forgotten completely, while others have purposefully sent their loans to collections or ignored their payments altogether.

Many of those who commented said they haven’t started paying their student loans back because they can’t even afford their monthly payment.

With the Federal Reserve reporting that the median student loan balance ranges from $20,000 and $24,999, you can understand why that may be hard for people to pay off.

In fact, some people are so fed up with their outstanding balances that they’re looking to abolish student loans entirely. The Debt Collective is one such group. They’re a national debtors’ union, who organize debt strikes and campaigns to cancel student loans, according to their website.

And their activism appears to be working. A press release details how they wiped out nearly $10 million worth of student loans in collections for the alumni and students of the Atlanta-based Morehouse College, a historically Black men’s liberal arts institution. Not to mention the ongoing pressure they’ve put on President Biden, who seems to be listening.

As Braxton Brewington, a spokesperson for the Debt Collective was quoted as saying in the press release, “[this] student debt cancellation will put thousands of Black folks in a better position to be able to save for retirement, purchase a home or start a small business.”

Uncle Sam lends a hand

Biden has worked toward decreasing student debt. His administration has wiped out $136.6 billion in student debt for more than 3.7 million Americans, according to a press release.

In February, he also wiped out an additional $1.2 billion in student debt for borrowers on the SAVE plan.

Part of the reason Biden’s doing this is because student loan relief is a major voting issue for young people and Black Americans, according to the New York Times. With an upcoming election, there are hints at more student loan forgiveness — despite the lack of Supreme Court support for it.

“The Biden-Harris Administration is not going to stop until we’ve helped all of those harmed by the broken student loan system,” U.S. Under Secretary of Education James Kvaal said in the aforementioned press release about student loan forgiveness.

But what can you do now?

If you’re like Santos and are feeling “overwhelmed” by your student loan payment, there are ways to SAVE — a.k.a. Saving on a Valuable Education Plan. This is a Federal Student Aid-sponsored plan to calculate your monthly student loan payment based on your income and family size rather than just on what you owe.

Several commenters on Santos’ video mention that SAVE has deferred their student loan payments until the end of the year or heavily reduced their monthly fees.

The government is encouraging any student loan borrower to sign up for SAVE. Getting on it will make it easier to receive your automatic student loan forgiveness, something Biden has done several times throughout his presidency.

Though Biden has forgiven a lot of student debt, it’s likely that you’ll still have some payments left over. If you’re like Santos and are unsure how to go about paying them, you can start small.

Use platforms that automatically round up every purchase you make and put the remaining change into a savings account. You can use that saved-up money to start paying off your student loan in gradual increments.

Sabina Wex is a writer and podcast producer in Toronto. Her work has appeared in Business Insider, Fast Company, CBC and more.

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