AMARILLO, Texas (KAMR/KCIT) — In Amarillo, opinion is divided on whether it is fair and justified to forgive student loan debt, so we asked locals to weigh in.

President Biden announced his student loan forgiveness plan on Wednesday, which would cancel some student loan debt for millions of individual borrowers.

Jered Lopez said their undergraduate degree from West Texas A&M University in 2020 and is several thousand dollars in debt.

When asked how they would feel if $10,000 of his student loan debt was forgiven, Lopez said, “I think it would be lovely. I’m sitting right at 15,000. So that would leave me with over a little bit 5,000 left. Honestly, I wish all of it would be gone.”

“I have other bills that I have to pay for,” Lopez continued. “I have a house, I have a car payment, not including anything that I have to pay for, for work, and so I think it would affect my life quite a bit.”

But, not everyone agrees that canceling student loan debt is a good thing. Pablo Reyes said he disagrees with the move.

“I went to college on scholarships, so I didn’t have any loans. I had a brother that did, and he paid his off,” said Reyes. “And so in that respect, I don’t think it’s fair that other people are going to get it get a free ride there.”

Reyes acknowledged the costs of tuition and student loan interest have increased since he went to college, but he argued that so have other costs, and he still pays for those.

“To me, it’s the fact that someone made a commitment, and now they’re backing out on and say, ‘No, I’m not going to pay,'” Reyes added.

Korbin Martinez and Seth Garner are Amarillo College students who have not taken on loans, as they are in the Thrive program, which covers their tuition, fees, and books.

“We don’t really have to worry about anything, or loans or anything like that, and like the forgiveness or anything like that,” Martinez said. “That doesn’t really pertain to us, because our school is free.”

Both students said they could see both sides of the loan forgiveness debate, imagining different scenarios in which they might want to pursue undergraduate degrees and incur student loan debt.

Garner also said his brother ultimately had to take out college loans, and his mom is going back to school.

“So, my mom has like, double debt stacked up, two college debts stacked on top of each other,” said Garner. “And so for one, it makes me very grateful that, like, I’m doing this for free. Like, I don’t have to put that burden on them or anything.”

Several Republican lawmakers have criticized President Biden’s move to cancel student loan debt, including U.S. Senators John Cornyn (R-Texas) and Ted Cruz (R-Texas), and U.S. Representative Ronny Jackson (R-Texas District 13).

Statement from Rep. Jackson:

“Here in Texas, we aren’t raised to sit around and wait for a government handout. That’s why I worked hard to pay for every penny of my undergraduate education by working in the oilfield and in the grocery store. I then joined the Navy to pay for medical school. Today’s decision by Joe Biden is a slap in the face to every responsible American who worked to avoid debt or worked hard after they graduated to pay off their debt. It is also a knife in the heart of those who never went to college and are now going to pay higher taxes to pay off school loans for those who did. Forcing hardworking taxpayers to pay off someone else’s school loans while further driving up inflation during a recession is wrong! Using $300 billion of our tax dollars to buy votes from the Liberal Elite is a new low for this failed administration. Biden is corrupt and this is illegal and unconstitutional. Taxpayers need to remember this when they go to the polls in November.”

Statement from Rep. Cornyn :

The Biden Administration’s election-year stunt to force working class folks to pay off the debt of wealthy graduates is both indefensible and nonsensical. As inflation continues to drain the pockets of Americans, this disastrous policy would incentivize universities to raise tuition and unfairly punish those who sacrificed to pay off their own student loans.” 

Statement from Rep. Cruz :

“The highest concentration of student loan debt is held by people in Washington, DC. This administration’s policy is to force blue collar workers and American families across the country to pay off the cost of a Washington bureaucrat’s college degree – it’s morally bankrupt. This announcement is a gut punch to every hardworking single mother who worked double shifts in order to pay for her own education, every parent who borrowed against their home to send their kid to college, Americans who sacrificed to make responsible financial decisions, and our nation’s veterans and service members who risked their lives to earn the G.I. Bill. Let’s be clear – there is no way to ‘cancel’ student debt. This will cost every taxpayer an average of $2100. Someone will pay the price for this policy, and the price is likely to be felt by every American in the former of even higher inflation. This administration is exceeding its legal authority and illegally burdening hardworking Americans with debts they didn’t take on themselves.”