Biden announces college debt forgiveness at local library

Wave Wire Services

CULVER CITY — President Joe Biden concluded a roughly 24-hour Southland visit Feb. 21 by visiting a local library to announce his latest effort to forgive billions of dollars in student loan debt, but he also made an unscheduled stop at a Baldwin Hills cafe to pick up a breakfast burrito.

Biden announced the approval of $1.2 billion in debt cancellation for 153,000 student loan borrowers enrolled in the Saving on a Valuable Education (SAVE), repayment plan. According to the White House, the move means the administration has now authorized nearly $138 billion in student debt cancellation, affecting almost 3.9 million borrowers.

The latest action for SAVE plan members impacts borrowers who have been making payments for at least 10 years and borrowed $12,000 or less.

According to the White House, the forgiveness of the SAVE loans occurred six months ahead of schedule.

“I’m happy to have been able to forgive these loans because when we relieve Americans of their student debt, they’re free to chase their dreams,” Biden said during an appearance at the Julian Dixon Library on Overland Avenue.

Biden was introduced during the event by Jessica Saint Paul, a physician’s assistant and teacher who said she took out roughly $95,000 in loans to earn her undergraduate, masters and doctorate degrees, but after paying for 18 years, the amount had still ballooned with interest to more than $144,000. She said she was among the Americans who have had their debt forgiven.

“I am not married, I’m able to pay my mortgage — in Los Angeles,” she said. “And just two weeks ago, I had my baby girl. It’s a defining moment for me.”

Biden said her story was the same for many other Americans who have put off key life decisions — like starting a family — because of the burden of student debt. He said when he first ran for president, he “made a commitment to fix our broken student loan system.”

“While a college degree is still a ticket to a better life, that ticket is too expensive,” he said. “And too many Americans are still saddled with unsustainable debt in exchange for a college degree.

“This is the kind of relief that can be life-changing for individuals and for their families,” he said. “And it’s good for the economy as a whole. We’ve freed millions of Americans from their crushing student loan programs. It means they can finally get on with their lives. … They can think about buying a house, starting a home, starting a family … or saving for their family’s future.”

Los Angeles Mayor Karen Bass was among those speaking at the event, which was also attended by Culver City Mayor Yasmine Imani-McMorrin.

Bass joined Biden in the presidential motorcade from Century City to Culver City. Along the way, they made an unscheduled stop just before noon at CJ’s Cafe, a small Mexican food restaurant in a Baldwin Hills strip mall on La Brea Avenue.

The president — who ordered a breakfast burrito for lunch — and Bass shook hands and chatted with customers. They also took photos with some people at the eatery before the pair got back into the motorcade and made their way to the Culver City event.

Following his speech in Culver City, Biden got back into his motorcade bound for Los Angeles International Airport for a flight to San Francisco, where he has additional fundraisers planned. A small gathering of pro-Palestinian protesters shouted at Biden outside the Culver City library, but there were no reports of any major disturbances.

Biden arrived in Los Angeles Feb. 20. Air Force One touched down at Los Angeles International Airport at about 3:30 p.m. with Biden greeted by Bass and Rep. Maxine Waters, D-Los Angeles.

Biden spoke at a fundraiser at the home of Israeli American media mogul Haim Saban in the gated Beverly Park community, near Mulholland Drive.

Saban and fellow host Casey Wasserman, a sports management executive and chairman of the organizing committee for the 2028 Olympics, were both listed as hosts for the event, but were unable to attend after testing positive for COVID-19.