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Marshall seniors breathe sigh of relief with student loan payments deferred

HUNTINGTON, W.Va. — Some college seniors are expressing relief over a move by the Biden administration this week to extend the pause on student loan payments through Aug. 31.

Dr. Robin McCutcheon, associate professor of economics at Marshall University, said the reaction is mixed among her students, but most of them find the extension helpful as they begin their job search.

Robin McCutcheon

“They start paying their students loans six months after they graduate,” McCutcheon said. “Those who are graduating at the end of April this year will have until almost November to find a job so they can begin paying back their student loans.”

Other students fear the economy won’t bounce back by the end of the summer due to inflation and high gas prices. On Thursday, the price of a regular gallon of unleaded gas in West Virginia remained above $4.

McCutcheon said those high gas prices are filtering into every aspect of the economy and it’s unclear if things will get better by the time the student loan extension runs out.

“If we’re still seeing $4 gas prices June, July and August, I would not be able to say that the economy is in a better place than we were a two years ago or even three years ago,” she said.

In the meantime, McCutcheon is encouraging students, who know they’ll have payments in the next few months, to start paying their loans now when interest rates are low.

“Don’t wait for those loans to arrive on your door step. If you’ve got the job, start paying the loan back,” she said.

Seniors, she said, are better positioned to enter the workforce now compared to two years ago.

“We’re actually in a better place maybe than most people think because we still have somewhere around six million job openings that people haven’t filled,” McCutcheon said.

President Biden has said he would support signing legislation that eliminates $10,000 in student debt, but the issue does not appear to have movement on Capitol Hill.

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