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In response, Biden announced Thursday he is considering using his presidential authority to cancel at least some debt. But, he emphasized, that he intends to allow less than $50,000 in forgiveness.
The announcement is in line with the president's promise on the 2020 campaign trail: to cancel at least $10,000 of each American borrower's debt. But progressive lawmakers like Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., and Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., have urged the president to waive up to $50,000 in debt per borrower through executive action.
The average borrower owes $28,950, according to Forbes.
What would $10,000 represent to students pursuing higher education? Here's a rundown:
Prospective students seeking a less expensive education should look into attending a local, public institution. Average tuition and fees cost $9,400 for first-time, full-time undergraduate students at public four-year degree-granting institutions during the 2019-20 academic year, according to the National Center for Education Statistics. Only public, two-year institutions are more competitive at an average of $3,800 in tuition costs in the same academic year.
Private, non-profit institutions granting four-year degrees are the most expensive. During the 2019-20 school year, the average cost of tuition at these schools reached $36,700. The average cost at a comparable two-year school was $18,600.
Private, for-profit schools are in the mid-range for four-year institutions, costing an average of $19,100 to attend from 2019-20. Average tuition slightly fell for two-year schools in this category from 2010-11 to 2019-20: $16,200 compared to $15,700, according to the NCES.
When factored together with room and board, expenses only increase. NCES reports the average cost of tuition, room, and board for all institutions was $27,563, $27,696 for four-year schools, and $24,960 for two-year schools during 2019-20.
Biden's proposed $10,000 cancellation might cover the cost of a two-year degree, but a student borrowing for four years would owe an average of $37,600 upon completion, based on NCES statistics.
In-state vs. out-of-state
Students attending college outside of their state of origin will typically pay more in tuition compared to their in-state classmates. But costs have risen for in-state students, too.
The average tuition for in-state students for the 2021-22 academic year was $10,740, and $27,560 for out-of-state students, according to Insider. This reflects a drop in costs for in-state students at four-year public schools in 18 states compared to five years ago after adjusting for inflation, but a rise for this same group by more than 10% in six states: Alaska, Connecticut, Nevada, North Dakota, Oregon, and Rhode Island.
Thirty-one states had a five-year percent increase in in-state tuition and fees, ranging from 0.1% to 13.4%, Insider reported.
Tuition at a given institution can vary by student based on other factors. A 2017 report by Pew Charitable Trusts revealed that 60% of public research universities consider students' year of study, chosen major or both in assessing this "differential tuition."
In 2015, 86 of 143 public research universities had such a policy, compared to only 9 in the early 1990s. Pew also reported that researchers found the policy is particularly common in the Midwest.
YOUNG PEOPLE WANT STUDENT DEBT RELIEF: Young people want student debt relief. But not all want it totally canceled, poll finds
A 2011 survey by researchers at Cornell University found that business, nursing and engineering programs are the most common targets for differential tuition.
The cost of a full-time bachelor's of science in nursing is at least $40,000, according to Nurse Journal, a resource website for nurses and other healthcare providers. And tuition costs averaged $9,000 each year for students pursuing a bachelor's degree in business administration, according to The College Board.
Tuition and fees for U.S. News & World Report's best ranked engineering schools ranged below $10,000 for in-state students to over $50,000 for all students.
Reach out to Chelsey Cox on Twitter at @therealco.
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Student loan forgiveness: What does $10K cover in tuition and fees?