The Biden administration is taking a victory lap today after the President signed an executive order to forgive $20,000 in student loan debt for Pell Grant recipients and up to $10,000 for millions of others.
To no one’s surprise, Democrats are hailing the measure, while Republicans are taking shots at the order, citing an anticipated rise inflation.
“If you make under $125,000, you’ll get $10,000 knocked off your student debt,” said President Joe Biden. “If you make under $125,000 a year and you received a Pell Grant, you’ll get an additional $10,000 knocked off that total for a total of $20,000 relief. Ninety-five percent of the borrowers can benefit from these actions. That’s 43 million people.”
Biden went on to say, “nearly 45 percent can have their student debt fully cancelled. That’s 20 million people who can start getting on with their lives.”
4th District congresswoman Madeleine Dean (D-Montgomery) tweeted, “Delighted with the President’s work. As a former professor, I saw how student loan debt was a barrier to students. This is historic targeted relief for those claiming an education, as we continue to recover from the pandemic.”
Former President Donald Trump accused Biden of trying to buy votes for Democrats, calling it an “election enhancing money grab.”
15th District congressman Glenn “GT” Thompson (R-Centre) commented, “Since President Biden took office, more than $200 billion in student debt relief has been provided without Congressional approval. Today’s move sets yet another bad precedent. It discounts those who paid their loans, as well as the majority of Americans who do not have student loan debt. Hardworking taxpayers should not bear the cost of Democrats’ debt-driving spending spree.”
So who’s right?
PoliticsPA decided to take a look at the undergraduate alma maters of Pennsylvania’s Senate and gubernatorial candidates, as well as its congressional delegation, to see what is the 2022-23 cost of tuition, room and board and total cost, as well as the median federal debt that students carry along with their diplomas upon graduation.
What did we find?
The average tuition for these 15 colleges and universities is $51,731, while the average room and board totals $16,310. That sum alone exceeds $68,000 and does not include fees.
The average of the median debt that students take with them upon graduation is over $20,000 ($20,639).
According to the National Center for Education Statistics, the average undergraduate tuition, room and board for all 4-year private institutions, which includes all of the above save Penn State:
For public institutions, such as Penn State, Temple and the Pennsylvania state system:
What is noticeable is that the schools with the highest median debt ($27,000) all have endowments under $100 million, meaning there is less money to provide for undergraduate scholarships. Typically, colleges draw earn 5% annually from their endowment to assist with operations and financial aid. So an institution such as Harvard with its $52B endowment will draw approximately $2.6B annually for student aid, while Albright and its $67.5M endowment draws $3.35M annually.
Where you go to school matters. Of the 15 institutions on our list, six institutions have tuition sticker prices topping $60,000, while four others exceed $50,000. Just three institutions are below $40,000.
Penn State’s tuition is a bargain for in-state students, coming in at $19,286, but its median loan debt coming out of State College comes in fifth-highest at $25,928.
It is important to note that since loan payments have been suspended and will not be restarted until January 2023, loan forgiveness will not increase cash flow for borrowers, as that increase in available cash occurred two years ago upon suspension of said payments.
So who’s right? Depends on who you ask.
Senate: Mehmet Oz
Tuition: $52,659 | Room and Board (R&B): $19,502 | Total Cost plus fees: $76,763 | Median Debt: $13,750
Senate: John Fetterman
Tuition: $27,020 | R&B: $15,170 | Total Cost: $43,400 | Median Debt: $27,000
Governor: Doug Mastriano
Tuition: $35,864 | R&B: $13,814 | Total Cost: $50,678 | Median Debt: $26,000
University of Rochester
Governor: Josh Shapiro
Tuition: $60,550 | R&B: $18,032 | Total Cost: $79,782 | Median Debt: $23,000
1st: Brian Fitzpatrick (R-Bucks); 10th: Scott Perry (R-York); 13th: John Joyce (R-Blair); 14th: Guy Reschenthaler (R-Allegheny); 15th: Glenn Thompson (R-Centre); 18th: Mike Doyle (D-Butler)
Tuition: $19,286 (in-state) $38,651 (out-of-state) | R&B: $12,984 | Total Cost: $32,270 (in) $51,635 (out) | Median Debt: $25,928
University of Notre Dame
2nd: Brendan Boyle (D-Philadelphia); 16th: Mike Kelly (R-Butler)
Tuition: $60,301 | R&B: $19,910 | Total Cost: $80,211 | Median Debt: $19,000
La Salle University
3rd: Dwight Evans (D-Philadelphia); 4th: Madeleine Dean (D-Montgomery)
Tuition: $32,640 | R&B: $15,222 | Total Cost: $47,862 | Median Debt: $27,000
5th: Mary Gay Scanlon (D-Delaware)
Tuition: $63,904 | R&B: $16,106 | Total Cost: $80,396 | Median Debt: $15,750
6th: Chrissy Houlahan (D-Chester)
Tuition: $57,692 | R&B: $18,619 | Total Cost: $77,304 | Median Debt: $11,750
7th: Susan Wild (D-Lehigh)
Tuition: $53,070 | R&B: $15,706 | Total Cost: $71,704 | Median Debt: $23,999
8th: Matt Cartwright (D-Lackawanna)
Tuition: $62,050 | R&B: $15,910 | Total Cost: $78,580 | Median Debt: $16,500
9th: Dan Meuser (R-Luzerne)
Tuition: $62,456 (state-supported colleges: $41,958) | R&B: $17,088
Total Cost: $83,296 (state-supported: $62,798) | Median Debt: $14,661
Franklin & Marshall College / Lebanon Valley College
11th: Lloyd Smucker (R-Lancaster)
F&M Tuition: $65,652 | R&B: $15,478 | Total Cost: $81,722 | Median Debt: $20,000
LVC Tuition: $47,240 | R&B: $13,220 | Total Cost: $65,708 | Median Debt: $27,000
University of Pennsylvania
17th: Conor Lamb (D-Allegheny)
Tuition: $56,212 | R&B: $17,888 | Total Cost: $81,340 | Median Debt: $18,250