OGDEN, Utah (ABC4) – Student loan debt continues to be a focus for politicians in Utah and Washington D.C. Senator Mitt Romney is leading an effort to stop the president from forgiving that debt. Currently, Utahns account for more than $10 billion of the $1.75 trillion in student loan debt nationwide. Some Utahns who took out loans to attend college hope Senator Romney will look at the needs of the average American.   

Kelly Beatty and Cord Nelson have been married for two years. The pair lives in Ogden. They own a home, work full-time and each has some college education under their belts.  

“One thing you don’t consider when you’re a young adult is you could marry into somebody’s student loan debt and that’s a lot of money,” Beatty told ABC4. Beatty attended community college and had scholarships that paid for that part of his education. He recently enrolled at Weber State University. He works full-time and has not needed to take out any student loans. His husband, Nelson, has attended three different universities, worked three part-time jobs, and still needed to take out loans to pay his tuition.   

“You’re welcome,” Nelson said with a smile to Beatty. He then said through a laugh, “So, now it’s our debt.”  

The couple has a debt of about $50,000. During the pandemic, loan payments have been on hold. The two told ABC4 that this pause has allowed them to survive as inflation continues to rise.   

“Some are predicting a recession in 2023,” President Joe Biden recently said during a press conference. He has been floating the idea of forgiving student loan debt since the beginning of his term. He has now stated that he is not considering a debt reduction of $50,000. “I’m in the process of taking a hard look at whether or not there will be additional debt forgiveness,” he said.   

Senator Mitt Romney is leading an effort to pass The Student Loan Accountability Act. According to the senator’s office, the bill would prevent additional debt forgiveness. However, it would not interfere with debt forgiveness programs that already exist.   

“This decision would not only be unfair to those who already repaid their loans or decided to pursue alternative education paths, but it would be wildly inflationary at a time of already historic inflation,” the senator said. “…While the president’s legal authority in forgiving this debt is dubious at best, our bill would ensure that he would be prevented from taking action.”  

“I don’t think it’s a good stance to have right now because inflation is so high that everything is becoming more expensive,” Beatty stated when asked about his thoughts on the bill. “If we looked at our situation two years ago, we were in a little bit better of a position to be paying on theses.” He told ABC4 that with inflation, the $500 a month he and Nelson pay to the lender would leave the couple struggling to make ends meet.  

According to Student Loan Hero, Utah is 38th for average student loan debt. However, in total, Utahns owe more than $10 billion. 

For some Utahns who have student loan debt, Senator Romney’s stance on loan forgiveness isn’t well received but doesn’t come as a surprise. “Obviously, someone in his position is not going to understand the normal everyday average person,” Nelson stated. “We always seem to have money when it’s large corporations or financial institutions, but these are real Americans that need some sort of relief from this,” Beatty added.  

The couple said they hope politicians will begin to look at those who have student loan debt as real Americans, real people, in need of help rather than just a number.