TikTok Reacts to Biden’s Student Loan Forgiveness Plan

Young student loan borrowers are using the social media platform to express their excitement, confusion, and concern about the recent update on student debt relief.

Updated September 7, 2022

Edited by Darlene Earnest
TikTok Reacts to Biden’s Student Loan Forgiveness Plan
TikTok
Photo by Craig Hudson / The Washington Post / Getty Images

  • TikTok has become a popular platform for young people to share their thoughts and learn more about politics.
  • After Biden's plan for student loan forgiveness was released last week, the "For You Page" on TikTok was flooded with videos of reactions and opinions from current and past borrowers.
  • The short videos varied from relieved tears to frustrated rants.

Although TikTok is best known for its lighthearted dance trends, it is rapidly becoming one of the most influential social media platforms, racking up 80 million active monthly users in the United States, according to a report from Wallaroo Media.

TikTokers use the platform as a powerful tool to share ideas, ask questions of one another, and learn about what is happening in the world around them.

In the days after President Joe Biden announced his administration's student debt cancellation plan on Aug. 24, those who have been affected by the forgiveness plan have brought their thoughts to TikTok.

According to a CBS News/YouGov poll, 3 out of 4 Americans below the age of 30 agree with forgiving some student loan debt.

Additionally, the overwhelming majority of Black and Hispanic voters agree with Biden's plan. Nearly 9 out of 10 Black voters and 7 out of 10 Hispanic voters agreed with Biden canceling a fraction of student loan debt for certain borrowers.

However, there were a variety of reactions from those on TikTok. While many expressed their excitement and relief, others shared their annoyance and confusion toward the latest iteration of student debt relief.

TikTok Users Felt…

Relieved

Many of the videos uploaded after Biden tweeted out his student loan debt plan were in favor of the action, ranging from those who had a significant amount, or all, of their debt forgiven.

@baddie.brad

I’ll be crying the rest of the day. Thank you all who have road this journey with me.

♬ im so proud of you - nira

Under Biden's plan, all borrowers who make under $125,000 would get $10,000 of their student loan debt forgiven. For those who have Pell Grants, that amount increases to $20,000.

TikTok user @egrzon danced around her kitchen in relief saying, "When you find out the Pell Grant kids get an additional $10,000," followed up by "love being poor today!"

@egrzon if this is false information don’t burst my bubble 🤑 #studentloans #debt #loanforgiveness #studentloanforgiveness #pellgrant #studentdebt ♬ original sound - egrzon

Her video alone received 700,000 views and nearly 100,000 likes. The comments were overwhelmingly positive. Borrowers in the comments shared that her video was the first they had heard of the forgiveness plan and that much of their own debt would be forgiven.

One user commented, "YESSSS. I've never been happier to be poor my loan is exactly 20k." Another wrote, "Today was the first day in a long time where owning a house seems like a possibility in my future. Today was a good day."

During the 2020 presidential campaign, then-candidate Biden campaigned on canceling federal student loan debt. Some users who posted on TikTok after Biden's student debt cancellation plan was announced expressed how surprised they were when he partially followed through on his promise.

TikTok user @mollz_martini captioned her video, "When you settled for Biden expecting him to be a placeholder…but he starts doing things."

Along with gaining nearly 130,000 views, the comment section mostly agreed with the creator.

One user commented, "to be fair if you expect nothing, anything is progress."

Another wrote, "... if you set the bar literally on the ground, he's bound to step over it once or twice."

@mollz_martini Now I’m only $14k in debt for a subpar education I was forced to get 😅👍🏼 ##fyp##leftist##debtforgiveness##biden ♬ original sound - out of context john mulaney

Unsatisfied

Some videos expressed initial excitement that some debt was being forgiven but argued that more could be done to help borrowers.

@jasminevo777 #cancelstudentdebt #cancelstudentloans ♬ original sound - Jasmine Vo

Rachel Simms posted on TikTok about the student loan debt she accrued from her undergraduate and graduate degree programs. As an occupational therapist, Simms had to complete a graduate level of education to go into her desired career.

"I think there are several reasons that people like TikTok, and one of them is because there are videos on there that are so relatable," she told BestColleges. "So I felt like a lot of people could probably relate to it and are going through exactly what I'm going through right now."

@rachel_the_ot Listen I’m mad at myself you don’t have to be mad at me too. #occupationaltherapy #studentloanforgiveness #gradschool #physicaltherapy #slpsoftiktok #geriatricrehab #geriatricrehabilitation ♬ Ring of Fire - Johnny Cash

Simms' video got almost 700,000 views and had mixed reactions in the comments, including some rude comments.

"It's like people assume that because I've taken out the loans [that] I want other people to pay them back, which is really not the case at all," she explained. "When I was in undergrad. I had three or four oncampus jobs. I played a sport, so I got [scholarship] money. I had exceptional grades, like I was working really hard. I went to grad school. I have a good job now, I plan to pay every penny back that I owe."

While Simms said she is thankful for the $10,000 in student loan forgiveness, she says it's "only a drop in the bucket" and that the government could do more to help borrowers.

"I think that if they wanted to really help people pay back their student loans, they would reform the amount of interest that people have to pay," Simms said.

"Also, just changing how much tuition costs to start with, it's really gotten out of hand and out of control. I'm super thankful for the $10,000 and forgiveness but if they really want to help me … they'll tackle the way that you're able to repay the money."

Confused

Even though further explanations of the plan have been released since its announcement on Aug. 24, students — both current and former — still have many questions about the student loan forgiveness program.

Some young borrowers resorted to TikTok to try to get answers to their questions.

Borrowers wanted clarification on whether they were Pell Grant recipients, if graduate school loans were eligible for forgiveness, or if their loans would be forgiven if they are currently a student.

They were also curious about overarching questions, such as how this new plan impacts the economy, taxes, and inflation rates.

@erinformation asked, "Am I just stupid? Am I not comprehending this? Can someone make it make sense for me please. I'm not angry, I'm just confused, and I know everyone out there is trying to figure this out."

@erinformation do they call themselves Great Lakes because everyone is drowning in debt?? #studentloans #studentloanforgiveness ♬ Sunroof - Nicky Youre & dazy

Other questions arose from current students about the future of their loans.

@dearmirrorball #studentloans #studentloandebt #studentloanforgiveness ♬ original sound - jen 😛

@libbybonthelabel, besides being "just as excited as every other person" about the plan, asked questions in a two-part series following the announcement.

@libbybonthelabel What are your thoughts!?!?! Im so curious what everyones reactions are. Ill believe it when I see my federal loan balance has decreased 😅 #studentloansforever #bidenstudentloan #nomorestudentloans #nomorestudentdebt #studentloanupdate ♬ original sound - LibbyB⚡️ Engineer + Debt Tips

As borrowers posted more questions, many knowledgeable creators on the app started to take charge in answering.

@yourrichbff, an ex-Wall Streeter who provides advice about side hustles, tax secrets, credit cards, and student loans, posted a series of videos answering questions brought forward by students.

@yourrichbff Replying to @thisisnotspicy How to get a Student Loan Payment Refund!! #studentloanforgiveness #studentloans #studentloandebt #studentdebt #college #student #school #university #major #refund #biden #potus #president #usa #money #finance #cash #greenscreen ♬ Wii - Mii Channel - Super Guitar Bros

Frustrated

Biden's debt forgiveness plan is not without opponents.

According to an article from NPR, critics argue that with the student forgiveness plan inflation will continue trending upward, debts will now be placed onto taxpayers who may have paid off their own debts or who never had debts in the first place, and that even with this policy in place, the larger problem of heightened college tuition is not addressed.

The same concerns have carried over to TikTok.

@idahoamanda Anyone else feeling this way? #studentloans #studentloandebt #studentloanforgiveness ♬ original sound - Me

@idahoamanda shared, "I don't want to feel bitter, but I kind of do a little bit. Reasons for that being that my husband and I have made countless sacrifices throughout the years to make sure my student loans got paid off. Also in college, I made so many sacrifices to make sure that I could work a full-time job while going to school to make sure that I didn't accumulate a ton."

Other users voiced the same concern.

@lilmissmedia asked, "Why is nobody talking about the fact that Biden's new student loan debt cancellation is gonna cost the average taxpayer two grand more? Are you kidding me?"

@lilmissmedia screaming, crying, throwing up 😭 source: national taxpayer’s union foundation #conservative #conservativehypehouse #conservativeparty #christian #christiantok #biden #bidenfails #letsgobrandon #WorldPrincessWeek #AEJeansSoundOn #maga #patriot #studentloanforgiveness #taxes #politics #popculture #lifestyle #fyp #lilmissmedia #tuvusocial ♬ original sound - Lil’ Miss Media 💜