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Utah governor pitching tuition freeze for colleges

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Kim Jarrett

(The Center Square) - Utah Governor Spencer Cox said he would ask the state's colleges and universities to freeze tuition to address the rising costs of higher education. 

"We have the resources necessary," Cox said in his monthly news conference on PBS Utah. We've been very generous to higher education over the past few years. We can figure out how to do more with less and how to be more efficient in our outcomes."

When asked if the state's higher education officials were on board with the freeze, Cox said, "They will be."

The governor said Utah tuition rates are among the country's lowest. The state also has some of the lowest student loan rates in the country, according to Cox. 

report released by the White House last month shows that 9 percent of Utah residents will benefit from President Joe Biden's student loan forgiveness plan announced in August. 

Biden announced he would forgive $10,000 in student debt to people who make less than $125,000 or couples who make less than $250,000 in 2020 or 2021. Borrowers who received a Pell Grant would be forgiven $20,000.

According to a fact sheet released by the White House, 282,700 Utahns would receive $10,000 in forgiveness, or 8.6 percent of the total population, based on numbers from the U.S. Census Bureau. Of those 282,700, 206,300 would receive $20,000 because they were Pell Grant recipients.

Forgiving student loans does nothing to help rising inflation, Cox said. 

"In fact, it will only have inflationary pressures because there's more capital in the system and so we are going to see inflation go up because of that," Cox said. 

The portal to apply for student loan forgiveness opened this week. The deadline to apply is December 31, 2023.