Thursday, October 27, 2022

The Color of Pain—Color del dolor: 21 Uvalde murals of Robb Elementary victims use paint to heal pain

Incredible murals in Uvalde used to honor the victims, these small children whose lives were taken by senseless violence.

It's all so terribly sad and traumatizing. Thoughts and prayers for Uvalde and victims of such violence everywhere. Art does help the healing process, in great part by memorializing these childrens' lives.

Do click on the actual newspaper link so that you can see every painting. Simply beautiful!

-Angela Valenzuela

Color del dolor: 21 Uvalde murals of Robb 

Elementary victims use paint to heal pain

Across downtown Uvalde are 21 murals for each of the victims

with each one telling unique stories about each person.

Luz Moreno-LozanoAustin American-Statesman

Published 5:01 AM CDT Oct. 25, 2022 Updated 3:27 PM CDT Oct. 26, 2022

Monday, October 24, 2022

Minority voters 50% more likely to have ballots rejected under new Texas voting law, study finds

Early voting in Texas begins today through Friday, November 4, 2022. The general election is November 8th. By all means, research your ballot. Compliments of Laura Yeager, here is a nonpartisan research page that provides you with great information on candidates' positions on public education so that you can be an informed voter. She also provides great information on who the elected leaders are in our state who make education-related decisions. Thanks, Laura, for your dedication and hard work on this.

The piece below should affirm, above all else, the need for every person in our state to get out and vote as members of a democracy, particularly since democracy itself is on the ballot. 

-Angela Valenzuela 

Minority voters 50% more likely to have ballots rejected under new Texas voting law, study finds

The state's new mail voting requirements caused nearly 25,000 ballots to be rejected in the March primaries.

by Benjamin Wermund | Oct. 20, 2022 | San Antonio Express-News

WASHINGTON — Voters of color were 50 percent more likely than white voters to have mail ballots rejected under a new Texas law that restricted voting by mail, according to a new study detailing "massive disenfranchisement" under the law.

VOTING HEADACHE: For a Texas family, voting by mail meant 5 applications, 3 different outcomes and a 5-week wait

The law — passed by Texas Republicans in 2021 in the name of election integrity — requires absentee voters to include either a driver’s license number or the last four digits of their Social Security number on the ballot. The number has to match what the voter put on their registration form, but advocates say many voters forget which number is on file or overlook it on their ballots.

The requirement caused nearly 25,000 ballots and 12,000 applications for them to be rejected in the March primaries. The rejection rate was 12.4 percent statewide, with a slightly more pronounced rate in Democratic primaries, at 12.9 percent compared with 11.8 percent of Republican ballots, according to figures from the Texas Secretary of State.

An analysis of those rejections by New York University’s Brennan Center for Justice found Latino, Asian and Black voters were significantly more likely to have both applications and ballots rejected under the new requirement.

EARLIER THIS YEAR: Texas woman recounts her mail ballot hassle

The study found that Asian-American voters had either their applications or ballots rejected at a rate of 19 percent. The rejection rate among Black voters was nearly 17 percent, and it was 16 percent for Latino voters. The rejection rate for white voters was less than 12 percent.

The racial disparities were larger for ballot rejections than application rejections. Voters of color were at least 47 percent more likely than white voters to have their ballots rejected. Asian-American and Latino voters were each more than 50 percent more likely to have a ballot rejected than white voters. 

According to the study, more than 15 percent of Asian-American voters had mail ballots rejected. Nearly 15 percent of Latino voters and nearly 14 percent of Black voters had ballots turned down. Just more than 9 percent of white voters saw their ballots rejected. 

"Texas’s S.B. 1 is a prime example of the anti-voter legislation sweeping the nation," the study says. "This analysis makes clear that just one of its many provisions is already causing serious problems in election administration, disenfranchising significant numbers of Americans — especially people of color."

KNOW THE CANDIDATES: Houston Chronicle Voter Guide / San Antonio Express-News Voter Guide

Texas was one of several GOP states that pushed new restrictions after the 2020 elections, when former President Donald Trump falsely claimed widespread fraud cost him the election, due in large part to an increase in mail-in voting. 

Republican lawmakers who supported the legislation have said voters’ troubles are part of a normal learning curve that will eventually improve over time with education. They have said the new rules were needed to bolster election integrity, though Attorney General Ken Paxton's staff spent 20,000 hours looking for voter fraud last year, focusing on the 2020 elections, and didn't uncover anything beyond isolated incidents affecting a handful of votes in an election in which more than 11 million Texans cast ballots.

The law sparked legal challenges, including by the U.S. Department of Justice, and failed attempts by Democrats in Congress to pass new national voting rights legislation. The Brennan Center has also challenged the law in court. 

Texas has among the strictest mail voting laws in the nation. It is one of just 15 states that requires an excuse to vote by mail, and state leaders have resisted changes to make the process easier that have been adopted elsewhere, including allowing voters to apply for mail ballots online and sending ballots to all voters.

Sunday, October 23, 2022

L.A.’s coalition game: Alliances drive city politics. Despite the vitriol on that tape, Black and Latino leaders have long united on major goals.

Here is a fairly thorough piece in last week's Los Angeles Times on a three-decades old alliance between Latino and Black leaders in Los Angeles that's been impacted by the racist vitriol of Council Member Martinez and her colleagues, Gil Cedillo and Kevin de León where they worked behind closed doors with a labor leader to map out an electoral strategy.

Do read for yourself. I'm encouraged by what nevertheless has been an intentional process of working together as Black and Brown communities for a better L.A. No question about it. Such alliances are what must continue to happen in L.A. and everywhere possible.

-Angela Valenzuela

L.A.’s coalition gameAlliances drive city politics. Despite the vitriol on that tape, Black and Latino leaders have long united on major goals.

RICHARD ALATORRE, the son of an East L.A. beautician and repairman, served 13 years in the state Assembly and was a close ally of California’s first Black speaker, Willie Brown. (Wally Skalij Los Angeles Times) MICHAEL WOO, the L.A. City Council’s first Asian member, was infuriated by district maps drawn up by Alatorre. Woo served from 1985 to 1993. (Al Seib Los Angeles Times) COUNCILMEMBER Nury Martinez addresses the crowd as then-Council President Herb Wesson, center, and Councilmember Gil Cedillo listen at a 2019 rally. (Genaro Molina Los Angeles Times) 

By Jessica Garrison, Ruben Vives, Marisa Gerber, Angel Jennings and David Zahniser | Los Angeles Time | October 16, 2022

Jorge Nuño learned the hard way how race, power and politics work in Los Angeles.

Nuño, 45, the son of immigrants from Jalisco, Mexico, grew up in South Los Angeles near Vernon Avenue and Main Street, then built a successful graphic design business and a printing business, launched a multiracial youth services nonprofit, and threw himself into grass-roots organizing among both Black and Latino groups in his neighborhood.

With this background, he decided to run for City Council representing the 9th District — its constituents majority Latino — expecting his campaign would garner at least some interest from the city’s traditional Latino establishment.

Instead, word filtered down: No way.

“What I heard was that no Latino [power brokers] are going to come support any candidate coming out of South L.A.,” he said, “because there is a coordination between Black and brown caucuses about keeping it Black” through the tenure of the current councilman.

Nuño lost that election to the incumbent, Curren Price, a Black former state lawmaker who also grew up in South L.A. He said he simply did not understand the complicated alliances brokered by Black and Latino politicians and their allies in labor.

“Naive to the game,” he said of himself back then.

City government has been thrown into crisis by the racist rhetoric of a secretly recorded conversation in which three Latino councilmembers — Nury Martinez, Gil Cedillo, and Kevin de León — plotted electoral strategy with a labor leader. The language was so outrageous that President Biden waded into city politics, calling on them all to resign.

Nuño said he too was sickened by the racism, but he said he was also struck by what the conversation revealed about the complex way politicians use race to exercise power in a sprawling multicultural city. Even as she said terrible things about Black people, including comparing a colleague’s Black child to a monkey, Martinez kept circling back to one of her major political goals: helping Price — a Black councilman representing a district that is now fourth-fifths Latino — hold on to his seat against a Latina challenger.

Politics in Los Angeles has always been organized along racial lines. But those lines are not as stark as the crass and hateful language on the recordings might lead many to conclude. Instead, in a city where more than 100 languages are spoken, leaders have put together coalitions to win elections and move their legislative priorities through the City Council, where eight votes are required to approve anything. And in the last three decades, the center of those coalitions has often been an alliance between Latino and Black leaders.

That alliance, which often includes strong backing from organized labor, has achieved major progressive goals, winning one of the highest minimum wages in the country, for example, and pushing initiatives to benefit renters, immigrants and neighborhoods long beset by environmental hazards. For much of the last few decades, Black and brown leadership provided vital focus on social issues in core areas of L.A., as many whites moved to suburbs and wrote off older neighborhoods in the central city as no-go crime zones.

But the foundations of that alliance are threatened by the shift of the demographics it was built on: the Latino population has grown rapidly for generations while the number of Black people has continuously decreased. Over the last four decades the Latino share of the city’s population has grown from 27% to 48%, while the Black share has dipped from 17% to just below 9%.

A critical factor in keeping the alliance alive and essential: high Black voter turnout to counterbalance the decline in numbers of residents. Martinez, Cedillo, De León and Herrera have been as skillful as any at building and maintaining these Black-brown coalitions, which made the racist tape all the more shocking.

“I think that is exactly why people are so offended, because that is not who we are,” said Councilman Marqueece Harris-Dawson, who is Black and represents South Los Angeles’ 8th Council District. He predicted that “coalition politics in Los Angeles comes back stronger than ever now.”

“The path to prosperity in Los Angeles is through a Black-brown coalition,” he said.

The framework for modern coalition politics built across racial lines in Los Angeles, and, in many ways, the nation as a whole, was forged in the early 1970s when Angelenos elected Mayor Tom Bradley, the son of former sharecroppers and the grandson of slaves.

His election, making him the first Black mayor in Los Angeles, but also one of the first in any major city in the nation, became a defining narrative in American politics — a win credited to his broad support among many groups in the city, but anchored by Black and Jewish voters.

Until the 1950s, Los Angeles was a city that offered essentially no political access to Black, Latino, Asian and Jewish Angelenos, according to Raphael Sonenshein, executive director of Cal State L.A.’s Pat Brown Institute for Public Affairs.

The first real break in that status quo, he said, came with the election of Edward Roybal to the City Council in 1949, making him the first Latino to serve in the role in nearly 70 years. (In an interview years later, Roybal recalled that at his first City Council meeting, he was introduced as “our new Mexican councilman who also speaks Mexican.”)

In one of the first and most powerful examples of the Black and Latino communities working together to advance common political goals, Roybal in 1962 supported the appointment of Gilbert Lindsay , who was Black, to take over his seat when he left for Congress.

“Progressive politics in Los Angeles is fundamentally coalition politics,” said Sonenshein.

Nowhere is that more true than in South Los Angeles, the sprawling land of farms and agricultural fields that gave way to white suburbs before it became a Black space and then, in more recent decades, a majority Latino area.

Between the 1940s and 1970s, hundreds of thousands of Black people moved to the area amid a labor shortage and a manufacturing boom in the wake of World War II .

Housing covenants prevented Black Angelenos and other minorities from living in other parts of the city, while in South L.A. banks and insurance companies denied loans and insurance policies, keeping the area economically depressed and increasingly dilapidated. When Black people finally defeated housing discrimination policies in court, some moved into the middle class. But South L.A. just became impoverished and neglected, served by substandard schools and hospitals, patrolled by a hostile police force, and otherwise largely ignored by City Hall.

Two-thirds of board members overseeing Texas public universities are Abbott donors. They’re not shy about wielding influence.

This is as good a piece as I've read on the money in higher education in Texas. Big donors get invited to exclusive parties and football games and are potential appointees to governing board. A prevailing issue is a lack of diversity on higher education board in Texas even as universities themselves are diversifying.

-Angela Valenzuela


Two-thirds of board members overseeing Texas public universities are Abbott donors. They’re not shy about wielding influence.

High-money donors are concentrated on larger boards, including those of the University of Texas System and Texas A&M University System.


Texas: Two Billionaires Want to Destroy Public Education and Replace It With Christian Schools by Diane Ravitch

Posting this piece by Diane Ravitch together with the actual, must-see CNN documentary titled "Deep in the Pockets of Texas" that's illuminating, to say the least, about the rightward shift of Texas Republican party politics.

School vouchers will be an important item in the next legislative session, by the way. 

And yes, democracy is on the ballot in November.

-Angela Valenzuela


Texas: Two Billionaires Want to Destroy Public Education and Replace It With Christian Schools

CNN posted an important article about two billionaires in Texas who are spending heavily to push state politics to the extreme right fringes on social issues. Tim Dunn and Farris Wilks despise gays, love guns, and preach a version of Christianity that is suffused with hate, not love or charity or kindness. Above all, they aim to destroy public education, which they see as the root of America’s cultural decline.

If you read one article today, make it this one. It explains the drive for vouchers for religious schools. What Dunn and Wilks want is not “choice,” but indoctrination into their selfish, bumigored world view.

CNN’s investigative team writes:

Gun owners allowed to carry handguns without permits or training. Parents of transgender children facing investigation by state officials. Women forced to drive hours out-of-state to access abortion.

This is Texas now: While the Lone Star State has long been a bastion of Republican politics, new laws and policies have taken Texas further to the right in recent years than it has been in decades.

Elected officials and political observers in the state say a major factor in the transformation can be traced back to West Texas. Two billionaire oil and fracking magnates from the region, Tim Dunn and Farris Wilks, have quietly bankrolled some of Texas’ most far-right political candidates — helping reshape the state’s Republican Party in their worldview…

Critics, and even some former associates, say that Dunn and Wilks demand loyalty from the candidates they back, punishing even deeply conservative legislators who cross them by bankrolling primary challengers. Kel Seliger, a longtime Republican state senator from Amarillo who has clashed with the billionaires, said their influence has made Austin feel a little like Moscow.

“It is a Russian-style oligarchy, pure and simple,” Seliger said. “Really, really wealthy people who are willing to spend a lot of money to get policy made the way they want it — and they get it…”

Former associates of Dunn and Wilks who spoke to CNN said the billionaires are both especially focused on education issues, and their ultimate goal is to replace public education with private, Christian schooling. Wilks is a pastor at the church his father founded, and Dunn preaches at the church his family attends. In their sermons, they paint a picture of a nation under siege from liberal ideas…

Dunn and Wilks have been less successful in the 2022 primary elections than in past years: Almost all of the GOP legislative incumbents opposed by Defend Texas Liberty, a political action committee primarily funded by the duo, won their primaries this spring, and the group spent millions of dollars supporting a far-right opponent to Gov. Greg Abbott who lost by a wide margin.

But experts say the billionaires’ recent struggles are in part a symptom of their past success: Many of the candidates they’re challenging from the right, from Abbott down, have embraced more and more conservative positions, on issues from transgender rights to guns to voting.

“They dragged all the moderate candidates to the hard right in order to keep from losing,” said Bud Kennedy, a columnist for the Fort Worth Star-Telegram newspaper who’s covered 18 sessions of the Texas legislature…

People who’ve worked with Wilks and Dunn say they share an ultimate goal: replacing much of public education in Texas with private Christian schools. Now, educators and students are feeling the impact of that conservative ideology on the state’s school system.

Dorothy Burton, a former GOP activist and religious scholar, joined Farris Wilks on a 2015 Christian speaking tour organized by his brother-in-law and said she spoke at events he attended. She described the fracking magnate as “very quiet” but approachable: “You would look at him and you would never think that he was a billionaire,” she said.

But Burton said that after a year of hearing Wilks’ ideology on the speaking circuit, she became disillusioned by the single-mindedness of his conservatism.

“The goal is to tear up, tear down public education to nothing and rebuild it,” she said of Wilks. “And rebuild it the way God intended education to be.”

In sermons, Dunn and Wilks have advocated for religious influence in schooling. “When the Bible plainly teaches one thing and our culture teaches another, what do our children need to know what to do?” Wilks asks in one sermon from 2013.

Dunn, Wilks and the groups and politicians they both fund have been raising alarms about liberal ideas in the classroom, targeting teachers and school administrators they see as too progressive. The billionaires have especially focused on critical race theory, in what critics see as an attempt to use it as a scapegoat to break voters’ trust in public schooling.

In the summer of 2020, James Whitfield, the first Black principal of the mostly White Colleyville Heritage High School in the Dallas suburbs, penned a heartfelt, early-morning email in the wake of George Floyd’s murder, encouraging his school to “not grow weary in the battle against systemic racism.”

The backlash came months later. Stetson Clark, a former school board candidate whose campaign had been backed by a group that received its largest donations from Dunn and organizations he funded, accused Whitfield during a school board meeting last year of “encouraging all members of our community to become revolutionaries” and “encouraging the destruction and disruption of our district.” The board placed Whitfield on leave, and later voted not to renew his contract. He agreed to resign after coming to a settlement with the district. Clark did not respond to a request for comment.

Whitfield said he saw the rhetoric pushed by Dunn and Wilks as a major cause of his being pushed out.

“They want to disrupt and destroy public schools, because they would much rather have schools that are faith-based,” Whitfield said. “We know what has happened over the course of history in our country, and if we can’t teach that, then what do you want me to do?”

Meanwhile, the legislature has also been taking on the discussion of race in classrooms, passing a bill last year that bans schools from making teachers “discuss a widely debated and currently controversial issue of public policy or social affairs.” The legislation was designed to keep critical race theory out of the classroom, according to Abbott, who signed the bill into law.

Some of the co-authors and sponsors of the bill and previous versions of the legislation received significant funding from Dunn and Wilks.

The billionaires “want to destroy the public school system as we know it and, in its place, see more home-schooling and more private Christian schools,” said Deuell, the former senator.

By the power of their money, these two billionaires are reshaping public policy in Texas to make it as narrow-minded and bigoted as they are. Their reactionary vision will indoctrinate students and crush the freedom to teach and the freedom to learn.

If you live in Texas, vote for Beto O’Rourke for Governor, Mike Collier for Lt. Governor, and for legislators who support public schools.

Thursday, October 20, 2022

Everything to know to apply for student loan forgiveness

Super helpful information here on loan forgiveness, a plan, that despite some Republicans' efforts, will go forward. Applying should take no more than a half hour. It takes 4-6 weeks to process. This is such great timely opportunity for folks buried in student debts, especially considering the difficult economy we're experiencing.

-Angela Valenzuela

Everything to know to apply for student loan forgiveness

The application process is now open. Some Republican-led states have filed lawsuits to try to stop the cancellation, but the Biden administration says they’re confident the challenges won’t succeed.

President Joe Biden speaks about the student debt relief portal beta test in the South Court Auditorium on the White House complex in Washington, Monday, Oct. 17, 2022. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)(Susan Walsh / ASSOCIATED PRESS)


3:09 PM on Oct 19, 2022 — Updated at 3:47 PM on Oct 19, 2022

NEW YORK (AP) — President Joe Biden’s student loan forgiveness program. announced in August, will cancel up to $20,000 in debt per borrower. The application process is now open, and the administration says the forms should take five minutes to complete.

Borrowers who apply before mid-November should see forgiveness before Jan. 1, when payments on loans are scheduled to restart after a pause during the pandemic. Some Republican-led states have filed lawsuits to try to stop the cancellation, but the Biden administration says they’re confident the challenges won’t succeed.

Here’s how to apply, and everything else you need to know:

Who qualifies for student loan forgiveness?

You qualify to have up to $10,000 forgiven if your loan is held by the Department of Education and you make less than $125,000 individually or $250,000 for a family. If you received Pell grants, which are reserved for undergraduates with the most significant financial need, you can have up to $20,000 forgiven. If you are a current borrower and a dependent student, you will be eligible for relief based on your parents’ income, rather than your own.

One major lingering question is what will happen to students with commercially held FFEL loans who didn’t refinance before Sept. 29. At the moment those loans are not eligible (even though they were initially going to be eligible). The administration has said it’s looking for “additional legally-available options to provide relief” to those borrowers, but nothing has been announced yet.

How do I apply for loan forgiveness?

Go to and in the section on student loan debt relief, click “Apply Now.”

Be ready to type in some basic personal information. The form asks for: name, Social Security Number, date of birth, phone number and email address. It does not require documentation about your income or your student loans.

Next, review the eligibility rules and confirm that you’re a match. For most people, that means attesting that they make less than $125,000 a year or that their household makes less than $250,000 a year. If you meet the eligibility rules, click the box confirming that everything you provided is true.

Click “Submit.”

How long will it take to receive forgiveness?

After the form is submitted, the Biden administration says it should take four to six weeks to process. The Education Department will use its existing records to make sure your loans are eligible and to look for applicants who might exceed the income limits. Some will be asked to provide additional documentation to prove their incomes. The Education Department estimates that the verification application will take about half an hour, including time to review and upload tax documents.

Most borrowers who apply before mid-November should expect to get their debt canceled before Jan. 1, when payments on federal student loans are scheduled to restart after a pause during the pandemic.

Will student loan forgiveness definitely happen?

Things could get more complicated, depending on the outcomes of several legal challenges. The Biden administration faces a growing number of lawsuits attempting to block the program, including one filed by six Republican-led states.

A federal judge in St. Louis is currently weighing the states’ request for an injunction to halt the plan. Biden on Monday said he’s confident that the suit will not upend the plan. “Our legal judgment is that it won’t,” he said, “but they’re trying to stop it.”

A group of Wisconsin taxpayers asked the Supreme Court Wednesday to block the program from taking effect, Bloomberg Law reported.

The emergency filing from the Brown County Taxpayers Association seeks to keep the plan on hold while the group’s legal challenge goes forward. Bloomberg News reported the Supreme Court has ruled in the past people generally don’t have the right to take the federal government to court over how tax dollars are spent.

Has the student loan payment freeze been extended?

The payment freeze has been extended one last time, until Dec. 31. The freeze started in 2020 as a way to help people struggling financially during the COVID-19 pandemic and it’s been extended several times since. It was set to expire Aug. 31.

Interest rates will remain at 0% until repayments start. Under an earlier extension announced in April, people who were behind on payments before the pandemic automatically will be put in good standing.

Does graduate student debt qualify?

Yes, federal student loans taken out to cover graduate degrees qualify for forgiveness.

What if my student loan balance includes a lot of interest?

The interest itself is considered part of the balance for purposes of this program. Forgiveness will remove $10,000 from the total balance you owe.

Will I have to pay taxes on the amount I’m forgiven?

At least a few states have said they plan to tax the forgiveness, including Indiana and Mississippi, and it’s unclear whether some others will change their tax rules to exclude forgiven student debt. Previously, Congress eliminated taxes on loan forgiveness through 2025.

Do parent plus loans qualify?

Parent Plus loans are included in the forgiveness plan, subject to the same $250,000 income cap for families that applies to the rest of cancellation.

Parent Plus loans differ from other federal education loans in that they can go towards covering expenses other than tuition, such as books, and room and board for college students. As of March 2022, parents of 3.6 million students owe more than $107 billion in Parent Plus loans, according to the Department of Education. That represents about 6% of the total amount of federal student debt held by Americans.

If a parent received a Parent Plus loan on behalf of a student and the same student received a direct loan, both would receive relief, as the cancellation is on a per-borrower, not a per-student basis. That means that each person who has Education Department-held federal student loans and meets the income requirements qualifies for cancellation.

What’s a Pell grant and how do I know if I have one?

Roughly 27 million borrowers who qualified for Pell grants will be eligible to receive up to $20,000 in forgiveness under the Biden plan.

Pell grants are special government scholarships for lower-income Americans, who currently can receive up to $6,895 annually for roughly six years.

Nearly every Pell Grant recipient came from a family that made less than $60,000 a year, according to the Department of Education, which said Pell grant recipients typically experience more challenges repaying their debt than other borrowers.

Pell grants themselves don’t generally have to be paid back, but recipients typically take out additional student loans.

“This additional relief for Pell borrowers is also an important piece of racial equity in cancellation,” said Kat Welbeck, Civil Rights Counsel for the Student Borrower Protection Center. “Because student debt exacerbates existing inequities, the racial wealth gap means that students of color, especially those that are Black and Latino, are more likely to come from low-wealth households, have student debt, and borrow in higher quantities.”

To find out if you have a Pell grant, check any emails you’ve received that describe your FAFSA award.

How many people will this help?

About 43 million Americans have federal student debt, with an average balance of $37,667, according to federal data. A third of those owe less than $10,000. Half owe less than $20,000. The total amount of federal student debt is more than $1.6 trillion.

What if I’ve already paid off my student loans — will I see relief?

If you’ve voluntarily made payments since March 2020, when payments were paused, you can request a refund for those payments, according to the Federal Office of Student Aid. Contact your loan servicer to request a refund.

What repayment plan is the Department of Education proposing?

The Department of Education has proposed a repayment plan that would cap monthly payments at no more than 5% of a borrower’s discretionary income, down from 10% now. Borrowers will need to apply for the repayment plan if it’s approved, which could take a year or more.

For example, under the proposal, a single borrower making $38,000 a year would pay $31 a month, according a government press release.

The amount considered non-discretionary income will also be increased, through the department has not said how much.

Discretionary income usually refers to what you have left after covering necessities like food and rent, but for student loan repayment purposes it’s calculated using a formula that takes into account the difference between a borrower’s annual income and the federal poverty line, along with family size and geographic location.

“What’s tough about income-driven repayment is that it does not take into account your other liabilities, such as your rent payment,” said Kristen Ahlenius, a financial counselor at Your Money Line, which provides financial literacy training. “If someone’s living paycheck to paycheck and their rent is taking up half of their paycheck and then their car payment takes the other, they have to choose. Unfortunately, income-driven repayment doesn’t take that into consideration, but it is an option.”

Student Debt Relief offers a calculator to help determine your discretionary income.

What if I can’t afford to pay even with loan forgiveness?

Once payments resume, borrowers who can’t pay risk delinquency and eventually default. That can hurt your credit rating and mean you’re not eligible for additional aid.

If you’re struggling to pay, check if you qualify for an income-driven repayment plan. You can find out more here.

The Biden plan also includes a proposal that would allow people with undergraduate loans to cap repayment at 5% of their monthly income. Proposals like this one can take a year or more to be implemented, and it’s not clear what the fine print will be.

If you have worked for a government agency or a non-profit organization, you could also be eligible for the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program, which you can read more about here.

The Dallas Morning News contributed to this report.

By CORA LEWIS and ADRIANA MORGA Associated Press. Collin Binkley contributed to this report from Washington.