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A Voter With $163,000 in Student Debt Feels ‘Betrayed’ by Biden

A Voter With $163,000 in Student Debt Feels 'Betrayed' by Biden
Written by Publishing Team

  • Melissa Andreta, 53, has been a registered Democrat for four decades and voted for Joe Biden.
  • She felt “betrayed” by Democrats for failing to pay her student debt and is now independent.
  • With $163,000 in student debt, she says she’s worried about resuming loan payments next year.

President Joe Biden won Melissa Andreta’s vote in 2020 when he promised to reform the student loan industry and eliminate student debt.

But Andreta’s student debt burden, at $163,000, has not decreased since Biden took office, and she told Insider she felt “betrayed.”

Andreta, who is now 53, said, “I’ve been registered as a Democrat since I was of voting age. But for the whole of this past year, I’ve been independent instead because I’m so frustrated and frustrated. One of the main reasons why I supported Biden was because I really felt that he He will help us with the student loan problem.”

Melissa Andreta

Melissa Andreta, 53, has $163,000 in student debt.

Melissa Andreta


All of Andretta’s debts come from her Ph.D. She sought entry to Teachers College at Columbia University in 1999. She was unable to finish the program because back surgery prevented her from traveling to and from Manhattan. Although she wanted to finish her degree once she recovered, “to think of getting more loans was just too expensive,” she said.

Since she left her PhD. On the program, Andreta worked as a special education teacher, and now she runs her own agency where she works with children and adolescents with autism. She said her career options are limited because when she can no longer physically work with children due to her age, she will not get an advanced degree to turn to again. Worse, the increased interest made her pay three times the cost of her partial degree.

“It’s so scary and frustrating that at 53 I’m still looking forward to $160,000 in debt when I only borrowed a third of that,” Andreta said. “So it’s very frustrating and very scary. It’s a very vulnerable situation.”

‘I have more anxiety than I’ve felt in years’

Andreta put her loans in patience for about five years after the surgery because she wasn’t generating enough income to afford the $850 monthly bills. During that time, interest caused her student debt to rise from the original $40,000 balance.

Although she now earns a six-figure salary, the majority of her income went to her monthly student loan bills before student loan payments were paused during the pandemic, and she was only able to put the “smallest amount” into her savings account and 401 (k) Since then.

“I don’t know I’ll ever be able to retire,” Andreta said. “I don’t even know if I’ll be able to continue living in New York. I’ve been looking at other options in other states because it’s so expensive to live here with these extra bills coming my way.”

As of now, the Department of Education is preparing to repay 43 million federal student loan borrowers on February 1, after a nearly two-year hiatus. Some advocates and lawmakers are sounding the alarm that the pandemic is ongoing and that borrowers are not yet financially ready to take on additional bills.

“This debt is crushing on people,” Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said recently. “If we don’t extend the pause, interest rates pile up. Students owe a fortune. And with Omicron here, we’re not getting out of this as quickly as we’d like.”

Andreta agreed. “I basically live from paycheck to paycheck,” she said. “I’m more concerned than I have in years,” she added, when considering another $400 bill to be rolled out in February.

The Democrats were supposed to be the people’s party

During his presidential campaign, Biden promised to reform defective student loan forgiveness programs and agree to immediately cancel $10,000 of student debt. He’s kept some of those promises: The Education Department recently announced reforms to the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program, which forgives the debts of public servants, such as teachers, after ten years of eligible payments but has risen with a rejection rate of 98%.

It also canceled about $11.5 billion in student debt to targeted groups of borrowers, such as those defrauded by for-profit schools, measures made available to it by law.

But when it comes to broad cancellation of student debt, Biden has remained quiet on the subject, and many borrowers have been disappointed. For example, an independent voter recently appeared on CNN to influence Biden’s actions thus far, giving the president a B-minus rating because he had not yet made good on his student debt promises.

“I would definitely say he’s kept many promises, but some haven’t,” independent voter Amica Burlell told CNN. “He promised when he was actually running, during his campaign, that he would wipe out $10,000 of student loan debt for everyone who had student loans. It hasn’t paid off yet, so I’m just waiting for that to happen.”

Time is ticking for Democrats to act on the $1.7 trillion student debt crisis, especially with next year’s midterm elections. Andreta said she would “definitely play a role” for whom she would vote for in the upcoming elections.

“I’ve always felt that the Democrats are supposed to be the people’s party,” she said. “And I could never see myself moving anywhere other than the group of people. But I am one of those people, and I don’t feel like they represent me at this time. So I really have to reconsider what the options are.”

Do you have a story you’d like to share about student debt? Contact Ayelet Sheffey at asheffey@insider.com.

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