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Daphné Vanessa

Shamil Rodriguez



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About This Episode

Danielle Douglas-Gabriel (@DaniDougPost) joins The Student Loan Podcast again from the Washington Post to discuss President Joe Biden’s recently announced American Families Plan (“AFP”) and its impact on higher education costs and student loans.  Danielle does not disappoint, as usual, sharing thoughtful aspects about Biden’s AFP and how this act of domestic policy may impact the economics of your higher education.

Danielle Douglas-Gabriel covers student debt for The Washington Post. Danielle joined the national economy desk in July 2012 from Capital Business, a Post publication where she served as the local retail, hospitality and banking reporter. Before Capital Business, Danielle was the managing editor of Real Estate Forum, a commercial real estate trade magazine. Her writing has appeared in EbonyJet.com, the New York Sun and the New York Amsterdam News. She is the recipient of fellowships from the Donald W. Reynolds Journalism Institute and Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism.


  • Specifics of the American Families Plan presented by President Biden during the joint session of Congress.
  • The impact that-around services will have on completion rates
  • What a final version of the proposed plan might look like after going through Congress
  • How COVID-19 has impacted the possibility of this plan making its way through Congress into law.
  • And much more…

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Read Danielle’s Related Work Here:

Danielle Douglas-Gabriel (00:00): Right. It is really difficult to have a conversation right now and tell somebody that no, we shouldn't invest in, in healthcare. We shouldn't invest in education after seeing students having to spend a year at home after seeing people not having broadband access to continue their education at home. After seeing hospitals not have ventilators in the richest country, in the world.

Daphné Vanessa (00:26): Welcome to the student loan podcast

Shamil Rodriguez (00:28): Here, you'll find practical advice on tackling student loan debt, paying down your higher education expenses

Daphné Vanessa (00:35): And inspiring stories about paying off student loans. Where are your hosts? Daphne Vanessa Rodriguez.

Shamil Rodriguez (00:45): All right. Welcome back everyone. To another episode of the student loan podcast today, we have a very special guest who has been with us once before, but has gracing, or is gracing us with her presence again, to speak about a recent announcement last week by president Joe Biden and his plan to, I don't want to say revamp, but let's say re-inject new life into higher education under his administration. So, um, Danielle, if you want to take it away, um, give a little bit about your such as the case that listeners have listened to the previous episode. Uh, and then we'll, we'll dive right into it.

Danielle Douglas-Gabriel (01:19): All right. Well, thanks again for having me back. I'm Danielle Douglas Gabriel. I'm a reporter at the Washington post covering the economics of education, which means everything from student loans, endowments, just essentially how a college students of various ages and backgrounds kind of navigate and cope with the financing of their education and with particular eyes towards low income, lower income students. First gen students, students of color, pretty much people who are like me in college, making sure that their voice is heard and their perspective is considered in these larger policy conversations.

Shamil Rodriguez (01:57): Very nice. Okay, great. Daphne, do you want to kick us off?

Daphné Vanessa (02:01): Sure. So I didn't has proposed a plan, not legislation yet, but a plan and this plan is, or could be quite a game changer in the higher education financing space. And so we have questions for you just about how realistic these actions are. Who's really going to vote for this and is it a substantial enough change? So that's what we're hoping to cover today with you. And we'd love to hear your thoughts first on what is this America's families plan? I think American families.

Danielle Douglas-Gabriel (02:38): Yeah. So it's, it's, I mean, a pretty significant, uh, sketch of, of a tremendous investment in domestic policy with an eye towards education. We're talking, adding essentially like two, two years on the front end with preschool pre-K and then two years on the, of universal education for all Americans, including, uh, folks who were brought to this country as, as young adults, as, as young folks, um, and or undocumented, which is a tremendous change from the previous administration. So let's break down the higher ed part. So I, I calculated all the bits and pieces from what the Biden administration and released, and we're talking about $302 billion in investments in higher education over 10 years. And the most significant pieces I think would be two years of tuition, free community college for everyone. That means adults, uh, working parents. That means, um, folks who are documented, that means folks who are coming right out of high school.

Danielle Douglas-Gabriel (03:44): He, the administration is also trying to extend a very similar, uh, benefit to students from families earning less than $125,000 a year who attended historically black institutions, Hispanic serving institutions, tribal colleges, and other minority serving institutions. Now this is a federal designation that, uh, is bestowed by the education department on about maybe 800 schools, including some of which are community colleges, but the money is following folks who are, are primarily people of color, uh, primarily low and moderate income. And it's interesting in the sense that deciding to include these MSIs in this package is kind of a signal that Biden one is keeping to a campaign promise. He had said he was going to do this, but also that he realizes that you have to meet the students where they're going to school and where they are willing to be, where they're being welcomed. Now, these schools, minority serving institutions, they're under-resourced, they don't have the kind of endowments of similarly situated, um, traditionally or predominantly white institutions, but they sure are educating or trying their best and not always successful.

Danielle Douglas-Gabriel (04:56): Let's be clear about that. You know, the outcomes that some of these schools isn't as strong as it could be graduation rates. Sometimes aren't quite high. Sometimes a lot of people end up borrowing, but a lot of that, you know, at least the idea, it might be that it's resources. If you don't have the money to help students who also don't have the money, then there's going to be a disconnect there. And sometimes people will fall through the cracks schools have to, of course be held accountable to making sure that with this money that is coming, that they're going to do right by their students and their students are going to get properly educated. But the Biden administration is also investing 62 of that 302 billion. 62 billion will be for childcare on campus for emergency grants. So that's do students don't stop out when they have a flat tire or can't pay for rent, or if they're food insecure, it's also for mental health services.

Danielle Douglas-Gabriel (05:47): He's also calling for increasing the maximum Pell grant. Now that's primarily for folks whose families earn roughly under 4,000, $40,000, sometimes a little bit more, he would increase it by $1,400. So if you add that to the budget proposal that the president had put out bought a month ago, that would take the maximum Pell grant to, I think like over $8,000 at is not the doubling of the Pell grant that he promised on the campaign trail. Let's be clear about that, but it is a significant start, right? So there's, there's that, I mean, there's, there's so much in here that that's a huge piece of, it could be its own story. I think, you know, personally, because I have written a lot about emergency grants. I was really happy to see that I've spoken to a lot of students who just $500 kept them in school.

Danielle Douglas-Gabriel (06:38): Do you need to divvy up $500 for food and for rent? I mean, that sounds really insignificant to a lot of people, but when you don't have, I guess, a big deal, you know, and, and I'm talking about not just people who would normally fit the mold of what you think of as a college student, when one man I spoke to was 51, he was a grandfather and decided later on in life to go to pursue higher education, he was in community college. He was previously homeless for years. So he was like in transitional housing and just $500 was able to help him pay for his, uh, internet bills so that he could do remote learning and finish up his associates and go pursue his, his, uh, bachelor's, that's tremendous, you know,

Daphné Vanessa (07:22): That's beautiful. And it speaks to the many faces of student loan debt. And you wrote an article about this recently, right? About how diverse the profile of a student loan borrower is. It is not only your, you know, 19 year old college kid who goes to parties, who is unreasonably taking out student loan debt to buy a car. It is also parents. It includes grandparents. It includes transitioning people, people going back into new careers. So I really, I think that from my reading of his plan, as it applies to higher education, it looks like he's trying to encompass a wider net of types of people. Not necessarily help one group of people win big. So that's my understanding from the small amounts.

Danielle Douglas-Gabriel (08:10): Yes, that's correct. I mean, it just, the parameters of the plan in and of itself is very encouraging to adult learners. Right, right. And also encouraging to, to folks to broaden their definition of what higher education means and what post-secondary education should look like. So by focusing so much attention on community colleges that do a pretty large share of the career training, right? The technical vocational stuff, the president is essentially signaling to people that any kind of training or education after high school is important to our society and our economy. Right? So it doesn't have to be a bachelor's degree. It could be varying levels of education and training all with an eye, making sure that you have skills that are transferable, you have skills that will allow you to weather the recession. Because a lot of, uh, the data that we're seeing, uh, this time around about this recession, about the folks who are doing the worst or folks who don't have some kind of post-secondary education and that held to be that held true the previous recession and that has held true.

Danielle Douglas-Gabriel (09:18): And in other times, you know, we, it is more so now probably then than maybe two generations ago that a college education is a, of some sort and college training. Cause when I say that, I don't want you to think that I just mean bachelor's degrees. I certainly working, you know, technical training as well, is it makes a difference in your ability to find a job to upscale if needed to transport your skillset elsewhere within this country and contribute to this economy. And in addition to skills, probably right. The network, right? The network that universities create universities are almost incubators of talent pipelines into career opportunities. So people are gaining that opportunity as well. And Biden has proposed a wider group of people to benefit from that opportunity then who do now is what it looks like. Certainly. And it's also a, he is saying, I see you folks out there who are striving for that. Right. But I realize that you have never really received the resources in order to get it in any meaningful, consistent way. And in my recognition of that, I'm going to invest in the institutions that are willing to come to the floor to try to educate you, to train you and let's see how this goes.

Shamil Rodriguez (10:38): Yeah. And I think that was well said because the, the narrative that we typically hear is, you know, you go to high school, go to college, then you go to work. But what I appreciate about what I've seen so far is that there's this acknowledgement and understanding that that isn't the story for everyone. And so this administration in this plan for my opinion, is really looking to say like, you know, what, what is, what are the indirect factors that are impacting your life, right. With the wraparound services and how they're investing there. Uh, and, and I think that what's so great about it is that, like you were saying, it's not just technical schools, but like getting an associates degree can really set you apart financially, um, from a community college level, getting just those first two years out of the way, and then either going into a nursing program or whatever the case may be changes, the income that you can have. And like you said, the transferability essentially of, of your, of your skillset. So what do you think, uh, why, or I guess I want to step back for a moment, why do you think, uh, president Biden decided to announce that last week when he does have this like three tier plan, that's going to, you know, the first chunk of funding has already come out, but now there's this one. Why do you think he decided to invest in higher education and going in that direction? I think the president, uh, sees

Danielle Douglas-Gabriel (11:54): Education as kind of the foundation for our society and for the economy. And he said that on the campaign trail. So he is certainly sticking to that idea. That education is a foundation for everything in this country. Men is also married to a community college professor.

Speaker 4 (12:11): I imagine I was going to ask,

Danielle Douglas-Gabriel (12:15): She does not strike me as a woman who is not telling him this is my thoughts and views

Speaker 4 (12:20): On things. So I do imagine that even

Danielle Douglas-Gabriel (12:22): Seeing in her experiences with her students, how transformational, uh, that education can be for them is probably, you know, something that he is internalize. I would imagine not to try to get into the president psyche, but certainly his policy is a reflection of that understanding. And I think that's why we're seeing education push the pre-K part. And I'm going to say this selfishly as a parent, you know, the pre-K part is very, it's very telling as well, because what we understand and what we know is that 20% of college students are parents, right? And oftentimes I'll have young children and their ability to complete their education is also contingent on good childcare and good childcare is fantastic. And we, you know, the federal government invest in this program called C campus that funds programs on campuses to offer childcare, but even better than childcare is actual education. So three and four year olds being able to actually start their education rather than just being a childcare program. That is not necessarily education-based is a tremendous investment for not only them, but their parents, if they are students. And since we know one in five college students have children, I do, I'm pretty certain that they are capturing some of that population. And that's pretty meaningful in people's ability to complete their education and support their families.

Daphné Vanessa (13:48): And it probably creates this net, right, for women who have left their careers due to the COVID pandemic, managing both work and childcare essentially. And who now are in this place where they're educated, they have experience, but they've just lost their career. And they don't know how to get back. This is almost a window of opportunity, a safety net for people to pivot, perhaps by going back to school and there's childcare now. So you can figure out a situation to educate yourself, improve your career for your next, for your next move. If that's a choice that you make, yes,

Danielle Douglas-Gabriel (14:24): There is, there is childcare in the form of what we know is traditional childcare. There is extended education. There is pre-K three and four, which, you know, I I'm fortunate enough to live in a town that offers universal pre-K, but it's knowing that the next town over doesn't have that as a benefit, never really made sense. And I guess what this administration is saying is, yeah, it doesn't make sense. This should be for everyone because we understand and research has shown us. Evidence-based research has shown us that children can learn at three and four do better when they start earlier and are more productive law in the long run. So this is a, an investment in that understanding,

Daphné Vanessa (15:09): Right? I'm shocked that that was even a debate to be quite honest, those people probably never had children, but yes. How was that debate?

Danielle Douglas-Gabriel (15:20): You know what I think a part of it is that people have really bought into this idea of education as an individual. Good. And so anything beyond what we currently have now, there's always the discussion. Well, private schools offer pre-K three. Why don't you just go pay for it there? Well, should people have to do that? Wouldn't it be to our, all of our benefit to ensure that those years are covered by our tax base? Why not? It's educated society, educated population, more productive people.

Daphné Vanessa (15:53): We board, I am going to shift to looking at some of the rebuttals that have started to come out. So where's the money coming from. Let's start there. And then we'll go into some of the rebuttals

Danielle Douglas-Gabriel (16:06): Taxes, taxes, Texas, and well, let me be specific taxes on wealthier people, right? So if you make under $400,000, this is not where you're going to feel. You're not going to feel this kind of tax increase that the, um, by the administration is talking about. He is looking at for folks who are wealthier, as well as corporations, wall street firms, all those people, um, who have really great accountants who afford them find the loopholes that allow them to pay less than what they probably would if they didn't have that accountant. So this, it pretty much closes the, the administration is proposing closing tax loopholes, ensuring that corporations and wealthier individuals are pairing, paying their fair share into the system, uh, so that we can afford to have a stronger safety net system for the rest of the country.

Daphné Vanessa (16:59): And part of that was by funding, giving more funding to the IRS, right? So that they can enforce more. What fails of compliance is, is that the goal go after Robin

Danielle Douglas-Gabriel (17:14): Clean, not the lower income people, because the IRS has a horrible reputation of spending more time and kind of picking the low hanging fruit, if you will, instead of going after the really big guys, because it really big guys usually require you to do a lot more, um, forensic auditing, uh, which costs money, more work, more attorneys, more litigation, all those sorts of things you have to pay for that. So having the staff who is dedicated to that will actually go a long way. I mean, if you have ever tried to call the IRS, it is it's, it's an understaffed underfunded agency and it has long been. And so any kind of investments in actually staffing up would probably be very beneficial to most Americans, because then you can get your questions answered without having to wait for 20 minutes. Right. And you're lucky that is

Daphné Vanessa (18:06): Yes. Right. And then in terms of the audits, even like who they've targeted, it, it will be interesting to see what that funding comes with. Is it going to come with some sort of guidelines on removing implicit bias in reviews? For example, like the IRS tends to target. Let's see if they're looking at a certain wealth demographic, like wealthy, but not too wealthy. So they'll go after more people of color, but where are the statistics on that? How, how do we know who they're going after? What sort of research and data is public and transparently available to ensure that the enforcement is equitable? So that's just something to think about as well. We talk about enforcement, but will it be equitable enforcement? Just a question for Biden, Jill, you can let me know later.

Danielle Douglas-Gabriel (18:58): I mean, I feel like that's actually a kind of looming question throughout all of the agencies, right? The way that you hold, um, actors within your, your field or industry accountable, how much equity is in that, how much fairness, how efficient is it? Are you disproportionally going after kind of people who you think are defrauding the government on the margins and not the bigger fish, because it's easier to go after the smaller ones. And I think that's also the case with the education department. I mean, I, I've written a bit about, um, FAFSA verifications and all these other ways in which the government is trying to weed out fraud, but oftentimes with a keen eye on lower income students. And I'm not saying that fraud doesn't exist within the system, but oftentimes when you, when it is found, it's so minuscule compared to the level of investment that it, it's almost the question, is it worth it? You know, and I imagine many agencies will have to start making those decisions and being held accountable for whether they are going disproportionately going after certain communities. And this, this administration has signaled that those kinds of issues of equity is important to them. So let's see what they do when it comes to how they intend to enforce these sorts of rules, be it taxes or education, accountability, or any other aspect of domestic policy. Absolutely.

Shamil Rodriguez (20:23): And FAFSA. So I didn't want to let go of this idea that I had earlier that I wanted to bring up was, uh, going into the idea of the Pell grant only being increased by $1,400, or I guess is the anticipated amount. Um, do you, you know, do you think that the byte administration is looking like work their way up to finally doubling the Pell grant eventually at some point in time? Like, do you see, like where do you see that happening? Or have you heard the administration already say like, well, this is the approach we're going to say, we're not just going to throw everything in the kitchen sink in terms of these reform ideas that we have.

Danielle Douglas-Gabriel (20:55): I mean, so far the administration said this is a down payment on an investment in increasing this program. So I taking them at their word for now. It seems like it's going to be an incremental investment. This is a pretty big jump, still $1,400 from where the, the Pell grant is right now is still a pretty significant jump. It is not doubling the Pell grant, but I do imagine that there were some trade-offs in making the decision to do you totally universal community college, right? So not, not what was initially kind of vetted about of having an income cap and set it at 125,000 note full universal plus adding the MSIs HBC use all those schools into the mix, plus adding the, the emergency grants, those investments, plus adding the STEM investments at minority, serving a community colleges, all of those things came at a cost that I would imagine there was some discussion of saying, I don't think we can do double Pell at the same time, because people do think about the limitations of that while certainly lots of advocates will tell you, they always seem to find money for all the military spending like I did for this.

Danielle Douglas-Gabriel (22:03): You know, I imagine that there were conversations about what the cost would be to double Pell, you know, by some estimates I've, I've seen and I've received from folks, they are talking about half a trillion dollars to double the Pell grant. Yeah. So I don't know if half a trillion, um, in this particular political climate, but I imagine there will be a continuation of the policy of let's increase and ensure that low-income students and their families have an affordable path to higher education.

Shamil Rodriguez (22:36): Do you think that the window of opportunity for the administration to actually take those additional steps is smaller rather than greater, right? In terms of, and now I know the president has been in Congress for way longer than I've been alive on this planet. So he knows how the, how this works. Um, so I guess I'm going to take his word for it, but I guess my concern is that, you know, he may get on this path and then eventually there that control of both houses will be there, right? We don't know how that's going to turn out, but if it's not there, then these ideas may just die by the wayside is my concern.

Danielle Douglas-Gabriel (23:10): It is possible. But you know, I think collectively, if you look at the last stimulus plan, the budget proposal, and these two packages, this administration is talking about spending $6 trillion, right? That's, that's not a little chunk of change and that's kind of going big from the, out, from the outset because they understand that that a lot's on the line, not only because the economy needs help to recover, American families need help to recover, but also because they may not have the political will to get a lot of this done after right after this year. And that's a possibility, I think the Senate parliamentarian ruling that the Democrats actually have a couple more reconciliations in their reconciliation, meaning they can pass things with a simple majority vote, uh, without Republican support, uh, change the game a bit. There's a lot that can go through. So this package is one of them and we don't know what else could possibly go through.

Danielle Douglas-Gabriel (24:13): If there it is considered a, I guess, a spending increase was the parameters and why we didn't see the $15 wage, a minimum wage increase. So, you know, there is a lot of momentum behind these plans because of that ruling, uh, more so than many of the other pieces of legislation that we've seen proposed by in previous years. So there's, there's, there's something to that. Um, I don't, I don't know if we'll get everything that Biden wrote out in his agenda at this stage. I honestly don't, but there are some pretty substantial pieces of, uh, higher education policy coming out of this administration. But, you know, without sounding too, too excited and, and all ramped up by this, a lot of this will hinge on accountability and enforcement. You know, uh, we need to see an education department and a consumer financial protection Bureau that is willing to hold schools and student loan companies and student loan, servicers, and all of the various actors that participate in this system to account for issues of college affordability, how they treat consumers, how they service loans, all, how they collect on debts, all of these different aspects of the system that tends to undermine, uh, the possibilities that these programs like Pell these programs like, uh, the student loan program, when, how, what it's supposed to do and how it's supposed to work.

Danielle Douglas-Gabriel (25:41): So we can spend all this money, but if there's not someone keeping an eye and with strong oversight and monitoring of the system to ensure that people aren't taking advantage and by people I typically mean industry, uh, then it could potentially be for not

Daphné Vanessa (26:00): The bill. I didn't see anything in the bill, correct me if I'm wrong. That proposed getting to the source of the education finance problem, right? So the high cost of education, the fact that the cost of education percentage-wise outpaces, the, how much people are getting paid, and that is not concerning, but I would say it did make me question the substance of the plan. And I know that there's a lot to be negotiated still, right? But what are the odds that the cost of education is addressed, where title four schools have requirements that they have to stay within certain windows can't increase X percentage for X years, they must be on par with inflation or, or some, some sort of, um, formula to really get to affordability.

Danielle Douglas-Gabriel (26:55): The trouble is that one of the things that makes this country's education, higher education system great is one of the things that makes it so complicated, the diversity, right? So you have public institutions and there are States that have those kinds of caps. Like you're talking about that yet schools by those metrics, that freeze tuition, and say that States that state two universities cannot increase their tuition, pass a certain percentage point. Um, but that's for those, those schools, there is nothing on the federal level. And I don't think it would be easy to garner that support either in Capitol Hill or among higher education institutions to have blankets, a federal mandate capping tuition increases, um, for, for myriad reasons in part also because they're already state imposed, uh, caps in some instances, and performance-based funding that you have to hit certain graduation rate metrics, you have to, uh, be going and ensuring that low-income students and, and black and Latin X students are being educated and such.

Danielle Douglas-Gabriel (27:58): And you have a lot more States that have those sorts of things in place. The privates are a whole different, a whole different kind of kettle of fish to fry in, you know, to use my grandmother's terms. I, in the sense that they are not regulated by any state entity necessarily, but very much guarded by the market and wanting to also adhere to their mission. But it's interesting. A lot of private institutions do educate quite a bit of a minority students. And when I say private, I'm not talking about the high tone, fancy elites. I'm talking about a lot of those smaller liberal arts schools that are the community school, right? And a lot of people who go to college stay within the same, the radius of where they grew up. They tend not to go very far. And sometimes that's where you end up seeing a lot of small liberal arts schools kind of capturing that population too.

Danielle Douglas-Gabriel (28:51): So they are serving your Pell eligible students and trying to keep a cost basis, keep their cost bases down. So I think of Trinity Washington, which is a women's college in DC, they're like 75% Pell eligible, meaning most of their population, um, their families earn them less, uh, less than 50 or a thousand or so, that would qualify for that kind of federal grant, which is really telling it's a small Roman Catholic school. And it is not the only small private that kind of has that, that mantle of trying to educate lots of lower income black and Latin X students. It's interesting that school is also a, one of the, I think the only school that is considered a Hispanic serving Institute because more than 25% of their population is Hispanic identifies as Hispanic and also a predominantly black institution because of the mix of their population. So, yeah,

Shamil Rodriguez (29:48): So I had a different, uh, question there, cause we're, we're speaking about the different populations that it serves and we're happy that it's expanded the, the umbrella. But one thing that surprised me was that it, it expanded it to dreamers as well. Um, what has been the, the feedback or the comments or the, it just w from your coverage, have you seen on that, that, that, that surprised me. I thought I was pleasantly surprised to see that myself, right?

Danielle Douglas-Gabriel (30:10): Yes. I mean, this was also a kind of campaign promise right. Of, of the Biden administration, uh, of Joe Biden as candidate Biden, that he would be inclusive of dreamers. I think it was interesting to see a Republican lawmakers issue statements saying the, the presidents are, the president is going to give away your public money to, uh, to illegals and such. So no, that really happened, that did really happen. Um, and, and so it's, you know, it does kind of get at this almost culture war issue of who deserves support. Right. But the reality of it is that there are millions actually, uh, roughly around a million undocumented students that are in the higher education system right now. Right. They are not getting aid of course, because it is illegal for them to get, get any of that kind of support. And, but they are still there. They're still attending community colleges and other colleges and schools oftentimes we'll offer institutional support as they can, um, to help fund that education. But those students aren't going away. They need to be educated. They're still a part of this economy. So extending a hand to them is just good policy in this respect, at least the way the Democrats see it.

Shamil Rodriguez (31:29): Right. Absolutely. We actually had someone on our show, uh, who lived that experience and now he's in law school. Uh, but he went all the way through, from community college, all the way through paying for everything, you know, working with family, working crazy hours to, to make it work. Cause there was zero, zero eight coming his way. He like never slept. Yeah. He would work overnight and then go right to the school. You know, it was just, um, you know, it was one of those situations where, like you said, you know, these folks are here and we just can't ignore them. Right. They're going to either contribute or be a detriment. And so if we're going to help educate, let's let them allow them to contribute versus be a detriment to our society. Um, and I think ignoring, it tries to create and not tries to, but the end result could be creating a part of society that is uneducated.

Shamil Rodriguez (32:20): Like we're saying an educated, not contributing to the maximum capability, um, and not like galvanizing our economy because the reality is when folks are coming over here, they're coming to prosper. They're trying to make themselves better. Uh, to me, who else wouldn't you want to help if somebody wants to make their lives better? I mean, it's my own personal soap I had to go on and on and on about that topic. But I just, I fought hard on that. That's true. We fought really hard. It just may not be included in the podcast, but we fought really hard. We did a podcast or for the dream act back years ago. Um, but a long time ago, thousands and thousands of calls we organized to get that pass. It didn't pass obviously at the time, but when I saw it there, it was like, wow, like this administration really is trying to, like you said, Danielle be inclusive, right? Like this really, uh, uh, include many more folks there. So, but here's like the, the big question here that I have, there's no bill yet. Right. For me in my background, uh, seen, you know, bills and passages and the, the, that side of the house. Can you please educate us or the listeners on what the reality is of this grandiose idea, actually looking like that at the end of the day, you know, when something finally passes and gets into and hit president Biden's desk, when it's time to sign that bill,

Danielle Douglas-Gabriel (33:49): It is the entry point, right? What has has, has sketched out is it's just that it's a sketch, right? It is what he is hoping to achieve. There will be negotiations. Uh, I think at this state, um, Democrats seem to have accepted that they're going to be negotiating among themselves. Uh, I say this because yesterday I believe it was, uh, the Republican Senate leader said no Republican will vote for this bill. There is no bill yet. So if he's saying that before legislation that even crosses his desk, Oh, that's pretty telling of where they're going to be working now. Let's, let's be certain about this, that not all Democrats have feel the same way about these domestic policies. So there will certainly be some, uh, some curbing of, of some of these large scale policies, but I also feel at least on the higher education part, which I'm more familiar with Biden strict, almost strategically focused on areas that have always garnered bi-partisan support, right?

Danielle Douglas-Gabriel (34:58): Community college, a lot of Republican support community colleges because of the trade aspect of it, the training, the trade training and such you get your welders, your electrician, your plumbers from community colleges. Most of them have at least one or two in their district. So they are on board with that. Historically black colleges, tribal colleges, Hispanic serving institutions, same thing, Republicans and Democrats have traditionally and historically, even in the Trump administration come out in support of those institutions. So it would be really difficult to see that element of the bill narrowed, Pell grant, same thing, these, the issues that are big kind of expensive and, and really lofty goals on the higher ed side might be easier than we'd think to get, um, bipartisan support. But since there is no need for the bipartisan support in part, because Republicans say they're not even going to look at the bill, um, I think more moderate and more conservative leaning Democrats, it would, it is probably easier to get them on board for that.

Danielle Douglas-Gabriel (36:03): It is harder. I, in my estimation to get all of the democratic party on board for debt cancellation, it is much easier to get them onboard for tuition free community college. Um, for, for that the same kind of promise, extended to minority serving institutions and for increasing the Pell grant debt cancellation, that's a harder one. A lot of them are ideologically opposed to it. And I think sometimes they use Joe mansion as the perfect person to hide behind because they don't have to see anything. Maybe you can blame him and never have to say a word, but even if he were to come on board with that, I think you would find other Democrats are ideologically opposed to the idea of a better educated, potentially a higher income folks being able to benefit from debt-free from a debt cancellation.

Shamil Rodriguez (36:57): No. Yeah. I think that that part is going to be interesting because I, it was interesting to hear so many people say, Oh, it's up to the president. He can do what he can do. He can do it, especially in the Senate. And then you would then there's like, well look, cause we, we can't do anything. Cause we would never get a civil majority or more than, than what we need to get this to pass. Um, and then all of a sudden the parliamentarian, you know, decides that it is possible, right. Uh, to do it with a simple majority. And now I'm like, now I'm just watching. I'm just like now the ball's back in your court, what's going to happen.

Danielle Douglas-Gabriel (37:29): I mean, there's a reason there are reasons why the Senate leader is pushing the president to be the one to sign off on debt cancellation if surer and Warren and other big names within the party are saying, the president knew this with a flick of a pen flick of a pen every time when they say that. And it is like, but can't you corral the votes to get this done? I think important, they're saying no. I think also they are happy to see the expense of debt cancellation passed and responsible with the president and not necessarily with them. I do wonder how much that is a part of the equation as well. No one has said that explicitly, they say that it would be cleaner and easier and faster to do this through executive action, which it would, it would be cleaner, uh, depending on how it's done.

Danielle Douglas-Gabriel (38:22): Right. So I think it's interesting. I've noticed little changes in the conversation before it was 50,000 for everyone, regardless now I'm hearing well targeted, maybe 50,000 for people making under a certain amount of money. Well, that's a little different and that definitely changes the cost, right? So as, as these months go by, I think people are starting to, uh, become more conscientious and perhaps maybe a little nervous about the expense of debt cancellation, especially in the face of $6 trillion of domestic spending during COVID during COVID. And I agree that I think the bigger debate is not going to be the issues that it's pushing forward. Those are Valiant causes. That issue is probably going to be the source of the funds. Where's the money coming from. And if the Republican side would read the bill, then they'd probably have more feedback on that side, right?

Danielle Douglas-Gabriel (39:19): The, the source of the funds who's getting taxed, the thresholds for income, those are probably the capital gains tax increase to two significantly more. So those are probably some of the areas where I see a lot of debate, not necessarily the outcome, those are all amazing causes, but where's the money coming from. I also think that for as much as we would say, Oh, Republicans certainly want to offer tax breaks to corporations. And they do, there are also, Democrats were concerned with how increased taxes are going to affect their donors explicitly and also, and people who are kind of teetering on the edge of real affluence. Right. And so it'll be interesting to see how much the, the tax proposal, uh, part of this plan is curtailed some, as it runs through democratic hands in order to get this passed. Yup. Yup. Because what's Nancy Pelosi's net worth, for example, right. She's like a good example. I mean, she did, I imagine many members of Congress who are over that $400,000 threshold over to pay the taxes. And I haven't really seen them seeing that they wouldn't be willing to, which is the thing that's kind of interesting to me is that for all of the, the up and arms about a tax and spend and all of that, there are lots of wealthy people who are like, well, we could afford it. It's not going to be the end. And you're not closing all the loopholes.

Shamil Rodriguez (40:57): Yeah. They've got accountants for a reason, but Danielle, thank you so much for your time. I know we're pushing up against the clock here. Um, can you let us know how folks can find you? Uh, I know Twitter is one of the social media platforms. Uh, the best finds you as well, but can you give your handle and then, um, you know, some of the recent posts that you might want folks to read, we'll put them in the show notes as well, but you know, might as well drop that right now while you're

Danielle Douglas-Gabriel (41:22): Awesome. So I, um, I'm not as, as, uh, engaged in social media as I probably should be because sometimes people are frightening on there, but yes, but I do to at least try to post my stories on there. And my Twitter handle is at Danny Doug posts. What I would hope folks would reach is to kind of capture why that investment in the wraparound services is important is one piece I did about the emergency, uh, grant aid that came through the stimulus funds and just talking to people and students in various situations and how fairly small amounts of money made a difference in their ability to continue their education, I think is an important part of the conversation. Um, and beyond that, let's see, what else is, I might have you about, um, the faces of dead story. I, you know, it was mainly just telling people's story.

Danielle Douglas-Gabriel (42:18): So it wasn't like a heavy lift. I did lots of interviews to narrow it down to the folks who are, uh, highlighted in the piece, but they really represent a range of people that I made in, in, in working this beat in doing this coverage. There are parents, there are folks who are retirees, there are young folks, there are lots of people of color. There are all sorts of folks, people who I don't think always, um, have their voice heard in these conversations, regardless of how you feel about cancellation. I think it's always helpful to understand the stories and have some empathy for people and their experiences because not everybody's story is, is easy to read and probably, uh, sympathize with all the time, but it challenges you. And I selected people who story challenged me and challenge other folks that, um, that read it. Um, and I'm sure you guys know which particular profile I'm talking about. Uh, you know, my household was like, she owes how much, but that's real. And what I, what I liked about that, I don't, you know, is that it was what a lot of black women here is that you need this extra education. You need this extra education to be comparable to somebody with half as much education who was a white man. And that's a conversation that sisters have amongst themselves. Probably not publicly

Daphné Vanessa (43:47): The data shows though, but that data shows, if you look at the CEO's that are black and the very few, and you look at the CEOs that are white of major companies, the CEOs that are black have at least one more degree and sometimes two more degrees than the average degrees of, of white counterparts. So they're not, they're not this isn't coming from nowhere.

Danielle Douglas-Gabriel (44:10): It isn't coming from nowhere. And also when people say that people always question them like all, no one really told you that, or that's not really true, but it is actually it isn't actually, and it shouldn't be. And until we can have these conversations beyond just among, amongst ourselves and in public is uncomfortable as it is, uh, then perhaps things can change. And I was really impressed by how brave folks were in just putting their financial lives out there. And I turned off the comments and asked the payment, turn off the comments. Cause now I'm coming for these folks like that. That was so smart from a bullying perspective. Yes. I mean, look, I've, I've had to change my number because folks have tried. Yeah. Folks, folks are, are ridiculous sometimes, but I would not subject the folks that I interview to that kind of treatment. They don't deserve it. No one does. And so, you know, they were brave enough to share what is for a lot of people really intimate, you know, to talk about your finances.

Shamil Rodriguez (45:19): No, it is. I mean, we we've had guests on the show that our personal finance coaches talk about student loan debt and that aspect of like, well, maybe that shouldn't be such a private conversation because people are willing to talk about many other private things in public, but when it comes to your personal finances, a lot of people are like, Oh, you know, I just don't feel comfortable there, but I'm glad that you covered it in your article because it's real. And these are, these are not fake stories are made up stories or some sort of exaggerated claims when, you know, people are visiting with, with, with elected officials that have this power that might think of, you know what, yeah, that's great. But like who who's the face that actually lives that life, right? They may not relate to that because their lifestyle or the narrative that they believe in, isn't the typical cookie cutter experience that they've seen in their community.

Shamil Rodriguez (46:06): And so I think that your article and many other people covering what we're doing. And I think that's why we love having you on the show is because we're, we're trying to break that mold than a lot of people seem to just carry internally because in the end, we need to make sure that they're seeing the entire perspective and this plan, no matter how much people are, like, no matter what it ends up looking like when it finally does pass at some point in time, uh, I'm just happy that it is much more inclusive. It's, it's covering so many more people that would have been full or just like a no-go or like, no, we can't touch that topic, but I do have to say that I give, you know, the vitamin ministration high praise for, for putting it out there, like in the end, like they, like you said that they went big on this requests and you know, we'll see where it ends up going, but at least he put it out there.

Danielle Douglas-Gabriel (46:55): I know we were over time, but I want to say this. I don't think any of this would have been possible if it weren't for this pandemic. I don't think that he could have come with, uh, as, as expansive as big an agenda. If this once in a lifetime, once in a generation event had not flattened, our economy kept us at home and, and, and unfortunately killed so many people, right? It is really difficult to have a conversation right now and tell somebody that no, we shouldn't invest in, in healthcare. We shouldn't invest in after seeing students having to spend a year at home after seeing people not having broadband access to continue their education at home. After seeing hospitals not have ventilators in the richest country, in the world. I mean, you can't, I don't think it would have been, it would have been fully possible to even come up with, to come with a plan plans of this scale without what we have all lived through.

Danielle Douglas-Gabriel (47:59): And many of us have witnessed family members die from. And I think that's important to note, I mean, as important as it is that the Biden administration is doing these things. This is not in a vacuum. We are in a tremendous, uh, time where this diseases expose all of these inequities or brought them to light in a way that you can't deny, right? There's no old, that's fake, no 500,000 people died at this stage. I can't imagine anyone doesn't know someone who hasn't been infected by this disease or touched by it in one way or another. So it just feels like this is the moment. And I think you're seeing that in a lot of the polling people may not like him as a president or as a person, but they like his policies and they like his policies because they are desperately in need of help in a lot of ways that I don't think two years ago, we would've been able to say in the same way.

Shamil Rodriguez (48:55): Wow. Well said, well said, Danielle, I'm glad. Well, you said that. And um, I think on that note, we will wrap it up here, uh, Daphne, unless you have to sad. Um, yeah. Well, Danielle, thank you so much for your time, everyone that is listening or watching this video, uh, we post, if you want to see more information, feel free to visit the student loan podcast.com forward slash episode 27. That's a student loan podcast.com forward slash episode 27. And if you haven't already subscribed to the Washington post visit the website, support journalism, because it's very important as you see Danielle is doing great work and we got to make sure that we continue to support those efforts. All right. Thank you, Danielle.

Danielle Douglas-Gabriel (49:40): Thanks guys.

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