Do Harvard-trained lawyers deserve to have any portion of their student loans canceled under the Biden administration’s new debt-relief plan?
That’s the question some are asking in light of a tweet from Harvard Law professor emeritus Laurence Tribe, in which he expressed gratitude for President Joe Biden’s newly announced student-loan debt-relief package. The plan calls for canceling $10,000 of federal loan debt for those earning up to $125,000, and up to $20,000 for Pell grant recipients.
“Good news for thousands of my former students. I’m grateful on their behalf, Mr. President,” Tribe wrote on Twitter TWTR, -0.37%.
But Tribe was immediately challenged on social media by some who suggested Harvard students weren’t in need of the federal assistance. And the term “bailout” was often been used by critics of Biden’s plan, particularly in reference to those who attended elite Ivy League schools like Harvard. And the discussion helped lead “Harvard” to trend on Twitter on Thursday.
Tribe defended his remarks in a brief interview with MarketWatch. “The main thing I’d say is the vast majority of people who (stand to) get relief are people who very much need it,” he said.
The Harvard law professor emeritus also asserted that “there’s no doubt that President Biden had legal authority” to establish the debt-relief plan. Already, there has been discussion of legal challenges to Biden’s plan.
One thing is clear in any case: Harvard Law students do often graduate with a sizable amount of debt, which is perhaps no surprise given that the school’s tuition tops $70,000 a year.
Officials with the Ivy League school didn’t immediately respond to a MarketWatch request for information, but a study by Credible, a website that provides information on loan rates, found that the median debt load of a Harvard Law student was $133,617.
Of course, a Harvard Law graduate can easily earn an impressive salary — Credible said the median income of those who attended was $158,200. Which means anyone earning that figure wouldn’t qualify for the debt relief under the Biden plan, which has the income cap of $125,000.
But if a Harvard Law graduate chose to practice in the public sector, which is much less lucrative, then they might indeed be eligible for debt relief, provided they took out a federal student loan as opposed to a private one. For example, the average salary of a public defender in New York City is $67,966, according to Salary.com.
More about the student loan forgiveness plan on MarketWatch: