Expert: Student debt forgiveness plan ‘a benefit for the rich’ Finance expert available for interviews

Expert: Student debt forgiveness plan ‘a benefit for the rich’ Finance expert available for interviews

            President Joe Biden’s student debt forgiveness plan, unveiled Wednesday, “doesn’t really solve the problem,” according to William Johnson, a UMass Lowell finance professor available for interviews.

Under the plan, borrowers holding loans with the U.S. Department of Education who took out Pell grants – a form of need-based, federal financial aid – to pay for college, and who make less than $125,000 a year, are eligible for up to $20,000 in student loan forgiveness. Individuals who make less but did not receive Pell grants are eligible for $10,000 in student loan forgiveness.

President Biden’s plan “doesn’t help someone with a lot of debt. It doesn’t really solve the problem. Making it a dischargeable debt would be a better solution,” said Johnson, an associate professor in UMass Lowell’s Manning School of Business. “Dischargeable debts,” he explained, are debts that are wiped clean when an individual files for bankruptcy.

“Right now, under normal bankruptcy procedures, student loan debt is not forgiven in bankruptcy. This is problematic since it means debtors can never be forgiven. The simplest solution would be to allow this debt to be forgiven in normal bankruptcy. I’m not proposing discharging this debt, but simply allowing people overwhelmed by their student loan debt to be able to clear it through the bankruptcy process.”

Johnson also believes the plan helps the wrong constituency.

“About half the U.S. population never goes to college – and that’s the poor half. So, you’re giving the benefit to the wrong part of the population,” he said. “This is a regressive benefit, is a benefit for rich people.”

He is available to discuss:

• Ways to structure a debt-forgiveness plan
• Types of dischargeable debt
• The bankruptcy system

Johnson is also an authority on the governance of cryptocurrencies, blockchain platforms, and decentralized organizations. To arrange an interview with him via phone, email or Zoom, contact Emily Gowdey-Backus at or Nancy Cicco at


About UMass Lowell
UMass Lowell is a national research university located on a high-energy campus in the heart of a global community. The university offers its students bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees in business, education, engineering, fine arts, health, humanities, sciences and social sciences. UMass Lowell delivers high-quality educational programs, vigorous hands-on learning and personal attention from leading faculty and staff, all of which prepare graduates to be leaders in their communities and around the globe.

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