Cardona explains to Arkansas teachers that student debt relief is intended to prevent defaults

U.S. Education Secretary Miguel Cardona emphasized the Biden administration’s student loan forgiveness program during a discussion with Arkansas educators. The program aims to prevent defaults among borrowers, he noted.

Cardona highlighted the importance of affordability in repayment, stating, “Which is better, letting someone pay what they can afford or throwing our hands up and doing nothing?”

Despite initial delays and issues, Cardona assured that the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) process is now functioning effectively. He encouraged students and parents to utilize the streamlined online application.

Compared to the previous form that took over an hour to complete, Cardona mentioned that he assisted his own child in filling out the FAFSA in just 15 to 20 minutes.

Notably, Arkansas Education Secretary Jacob Oliva and Gov. Sarah Huckabee Sanders did not meet with Cardona and instead sent a critical letter regarding the student loan forgiveness plan and the Department of Education’s policies.

In response to the criticism, Cardona expressed his willingness to collaborate with the governor, emphasizing the need for unity to benefit the students of Arkansas.

Sanders and Oliva raised concerns about the impact of the new FAFSA process on students, particularly from low-income families, and stressed the importance of clarity in receiving scholarships.

Cardona acknowledged the challenges faced by educators and the necessity of supporting them, especially those who have dedicated years to teaching but struggle financially.

Encouraging students and parents to submit their FAFSA applications, Cardona highlighted the increased accessibility of federal aid with the new system, potentially benefiting up to 600,000 additional students.

Despite a decrease in federal aid applications from Arkansas, Cardona emphasized the department’s efforts to streamline the process and facilitate access to more funding opportunities.

Following a successful outreach campaign, Cardona noted a surge in FAFSA submissions, ensuring that colleges have the necessary information for student aid.

Post-meeting, Cardona engaged with students at Central High School to educate them on the financial aid application process.

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