Student record

North Carolina Senate candidates Beasley and Budd on student loan forgiveness


North Carolina U.S. Senate race

As the November election approaches, candidates are campaigning across the state.

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Democrat Cheri Beasley hailed the student loan forgiveness as a help for people struggling with higher costs. Republican Ted Budd attacked it as a transfer of wealth that will only make inflation worse.

Beasley and her Senate campaign did not respond whether she supported President Joe Biden’s announcement last week that the federal government would forgive up to $20,000 in outstanding student loan debt. But she spoke positively about the decision at an event in Durham on Monday to show her support for law enforcement.

Beasley told reporters that the pardon “will make a difference for a lot of people here in North Carolina. We have over a million people in North Carolina who are struggling with student loan debt.

Both candidates say they favor improving access to education and enacting changes to the current lending system, but vary on specifics.

The positions of Beasley and Budd, who are vying for the seat of Sen. Richard Burr, a Republican who is retiring this year, could affect how voters vote in the November election.

More than a dozen current and retired law enforcement officers who are Beasley supporters joined the former state Supreme Court justice at Monday’s event, including Sheriff Clarence Birkhead of County Durham, Sheriff Cleveland Atkinson Jr. of Edgecombe County and Sheriff Kent Winstead of Franklin County.

More than 1.3 million people living in North Carolina have student loan debt, and the average amount each borrower owes — $37,721 — is significantly higher than in many states, according to, a resource online for statistics on the US education system, as reported last week by The Charlotte Observer.

This disproportionately affects people in rural communities, who then struggle to get mortgages, and “often their occupation and career choices are hampered by student debt,” Beasley said.

Beasley said she would like to see more transparency in student loans, so people know what they are accepting, and she promised to work to lower the rates available to refinance their debt. She would like to see more Pell grants offered so people don’t need a loan in the first place, Beasley said.

Pell Grants are a form of federal financial aid that generally does not need to be repaid and is given to low- and middle-income students on a need-based basis.

Pell grant amounts have changed over the years. For the 2022-23 academic year, the maximum Pell grant is $6,895, according to the Department of Education. University and college tuition fees vary across the country, but can reach $80,000, which means people who get Pell grants often still need to get a loan.

Cheri Beasley, Democratic candidate for the U.S. Senate, speaks at a press conference in response to the U.S. Supreme Court’s vote to overturn Roe v. Wade on Friday, June 24, 2022, in Raleigh, NC Kaitlin McKeown [email protected]

Impact on inflation

Asked if she had any concerns about the write-off of loans thwarting inflation-reduction efforts, Beasley said: “It’s really important for us to be thoughtful as we move forward, not only with this legislation, but it has been a difficult time for this country.”

“I certainly consider not only the cost of this, but making sure that we are fiscally responsible, while also making sure that the Senate meets its obligation to this country.”

Asked by The News & Observer to clarify his position, his campaign provided a statement attributed to Beasley, saying: “We are dealing with rising costs which affect families in many ways and this action can help people afford buy a house or start a family.”

Budd, a three-term U.S. House member, opposes student loan forgiveness. In a written statement to The N&O, Budd wrote that Biden’s agenda, “backed by Cheri Beasley, is crushing family budgets across North Carolina. Already facing $7,800 in extra costs this year due to bidenflation, working families in North Carolina are now being forced by the Biden administration to foot the bill for someone else’s college degree.

Republicans across the country have attributed high inflation rates to the Biden administration.

According to a poll by FiveThirtyEight, a data journalism organization owned by ABC News, 53.4% ​​of Americans polled disapprove of Biden, while 42.4% approve. Former President Donald Trump had an approval rating of 38.6% at the end of his presidency. According to another poll by analytics firm Gallup, after hitting a personal best of 38% in July, Biden’s approval rating is at 44%, its highest level in a year.

At the law enforcement event in Durham, when asked if she would join Biden if he toured North Carolina, Beasley said she was ‘glad he was here’ and that she “would definitely love to have that conversation with her team if he’s on the way.” She did not say if she would join him in the events.

Budd said “68% of North Carolina residents who didn’t go to college now have college loan debt because those people and all those who sacrificed to pay off their college loans are now responsible. of everyone else’s college debt. Several top Democrats have criticized the plan, but not Cheri Beasley. Moreover, economists also believe that this action will only make inflation worse when many people already have to choose between gas for their car to get to work or food on the table.

Budd also previously wrote in a statement that the loan forgiveness was a “unilateral executive” action that represents a “transfer of wealth” and an “insult to working families and those who repaid their loans responsibly.”

In July, Budd introduced the federal Employee Student Debt Transparency Act, which did not pass. All political appointees and Senior Executive Service employees, which would apply to Biden administration employees in political and political office, would have been required to disclose all federal student loan balances.

Some Biden policy advocates have pointed to the forgivable loans Congress created at the start of the pandemic to help businesses keep workers on their payrolls — including privately-owned businesses now critical of loan forgiveness students.

Earlier this month, ahead of Biden’s announcement, Beasley’s campaign said on Twitter that “Budd’s family” received $10 million in Paycheck Protection Program loans.

According to ProPublica, a nonprofit newsroom, which runs a PPP loan tracking project, The Budd Group, a janitorial services company in Winston-Salem that employs about 500 people, secured a loan of just over $10 million canceled in May. A spokesperson told WCNC Charlotte that Budd had not owned The Budd Group since 2003 “long before he entered politics in 2016”.

Training and learning

Both Budd and Beasley have touted their support for training, certification and apprenticeship programs. The two also took aim at their opponents’ records for support for these programs.

“While going to college is the right path for some,” Beasley said in his campaign statement, “I will also support greater access to worker training and certification programs that can help people earn a living. their family’s needs with a well-paying job, but Congressman Budd voted against funding these training programs.

Beasley made campaign stops at Halifax Community College, Durham Tech and Catawba Valley Community College, among others.

Because Beasley is not a member of Congress, she was unable to vote on legislation regarding training programs.

Jonathan Felts, Budd’s senior adviser, provided a written statement to The N&O saying that Budd had supported learning throughout his time in Congress and that Budd had “long believed that there were multiple paths to the American dream. for individuals, not just the path to a 4-year university degree. He also wrote that Beasley did nothing to support the learnings.

Felts pointed to Budd’s sponsorship of a bill that would have made the Department of Education’s report on the collection of data related to student participation and performance in vocational and technical education programs, and another bill that would have provided employers with a business-related tax credit for 30% of qualifying virtual training expenses paid in a tax year, up to a maximum of $2,500. Neither of the two bills was adopted.

He also pointed to Budd’s support for legislation such as the Propel Act, which did not pass but sought to expand student eligibility for Pell grants by allowing students to use the grants to self-study. enroll in educational programs including vocational or technical training, flight training, apprenticeship. , or other on-the-job training.

Biden’s loan forgiveness provides up to $20,000 in debt forgiveness to Pell Grant recipients with loans held by the Department of Education, and up to $10,000 in debt forgiveness to non-recipients of the Pell grant. The pause on federal student loan repayments has also been extended one last time through Dec. 31, 2022, according to a White House fact sheet.

Borrowers are eligible if they earn less than $125,000 individually or $250,000 for married couples.

North Carolina Sens. Burr and Thom Tillis and three other Republican senators, Mitt Romney of Utah, Tim Scott of South Carolina and Bill Cassidy of Louisiana, introduced the failed Student Loan Accountability Act in May, aimed at banning the Biden administration to write off student loan debt.

For more on North Carolina government and politics, listen to the Under the Dome political podcast from The News & Observer and NC Insider. You can find it at or wherever you get your podcasts.

This story was originally published August 30, 2022 8:00 a.m.

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