Current student loans and Boston Public Parkers’ current thoughts

Students in a classroom (Photo by Javier Trueba/Unsplash)

By Aidan Walsh
Boston University News Service

Along with a recent announcement last week from the Biden administration to extend the student loan payment deadlines, in recent updates, the U.S. Department of Education said it will change millions of loan holders’ accounts as current until September. 

Bill Gilligan, a 58-year-old IT analyst from Quincy, Massachusetts, said he is okay with the most recent student loan payment extension because “it’s so hard recovering from COVID and getting on your feet, so people can benefit from the increased time.”

“I know I would’ve appreciated it,” he said as he sat on a Boston Public Garden bench, looking out at a pond.

Many other parkgoers in Boston’s Public Garden shared this same belief on Monday, April 11.

However, shortly after Gilligan’s first comment, he added he doesn’t want to pay for this forever. He said the extensions are fine for now, but he is not in favor of a complete “turnaround.”

Navid Ghaffar, a 25-year-old medical assistant from Brookline, had somewhat of a similar outlook. He said, “I’m a bit biased because I have plenty of student loans. So I’m totally fine with it,” while he walked along a path, still wearing his scrubs.

Yet, like Gilligan, he said, “At some point, this is taxpayer money being used, so I think having a concrete plan instead of extensions so that everyone knows what’s going on is probably better for everyone.”

Cheryl Bryant, a 66-year-old Registered Nurse from Arlington, Massachusetts, felt otherwise, saying, “just keep going with [the extensions].”

“I think people need a break, especially young people,” she said after a long pause when asked for an opinion on this matter. 

This will be the sixth deadline extension under Biden’s administration since former President Donald Trump’s policy first froze student loans in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic in March 2020.

“​​President Biden is a people pleaser. He wants to keep people happy,” said Lynn Halton, a 59-year-old University of Michigan public service professor from Farmington Hills, Michigan. “So it’s just an extension of the other extensions,” Halton said. 

As a professor, Halton said she knows many of her students are struggling financially. “I favor pushing it back, letting students have a longer time to pay.”

Her husband, Jerry Ballogh, a 59-year-old automotive engineer, agreed with his wife as he sat next to her.

“I feel the same. And I feel that the government already is making a lot of money on these loans, so it’s not going to be a big hardship for the government,” said Ballogh.

Decked out in University of Michigan merchandise, they also shared their daughter is currently in Americorp, where her food budget is $5 a day. 

“It’s basically a service. You’re not making much money. So, having that reprieve and holding off [on loan payments] is important,” said Halton. “I even think [the extension] should be a longer period because many students are still figuring out what their careers are going to be.”

Rebecca Curran, a 33-year-old teacher from Ireland, attended the University of Ireland. 

As she ate a snack while sitting on a bench, Curran said she was a direct beneficiary of the taxpayer paying for her college education.  

When asked for her opinion on this matter, Curran said she knows it’s hard for taxpayers, but it’s what she sees as a payback system. 

“I went to university, and the taxpayer paid for my tuition. And now I am a taxpayer, so now I’m paying now for the tuition of people coming up behind me.”

Curran said she still sees her American friends struggling to pay their student loans, making her more grateful for her education system.

“I think it’s fair. If people are under financial constraints, but you want an educated population, the taxpayer payer could afford to foot the bill.”

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