Could 300k Utahns be out of luck? Yes, if Gov. Cox and other Republicans get their way.

Utah Gov. Spencer Cox joined 21 other GOP governors to ask President Joe Biden to cancel his plans to forgive up to $20,000 in student loan debt.

(Rick Egan | The Salt Lake Tribune) Gov. Spencer Cox speaks at a monthly news conference at the Eccles Broadcast Center in August 2022. Cox signed a letter, published on Monday, Sept. 12, with 21 other Republican governors asking President Joe Biden to withdraw his student loan forgiveness plan.

Utah Gov. Spencer Cox joined 21 other Republican governors in signing a letter in opposition to President Joe Biden’s student loan forgiveness program.

The program, which the White House announced late last month, would cancel out up to $20,000 in federal student loan debt for Pell Grant recipients and $10,000 for non-Pell Grant students. The Biden plan could benefit around 300,000 Utahns, if they meet the requirements.

Cox and other Republican governors — like Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, Idaho Gov. Brad Little and Wyoming Gov. Mark Gordon — signed the letter, which was published Monday. The letter asks the Biden administration to withdraw the student loan plan immediately.

The GOP governors argue the Biden administration’s plan is a way to use every American’s tax dollars to pay for the education of a handful of people. The letter argues that those with the most debt have advanced degrees and higher wages, meaning the taxes from lower-income workers would be paying off “the master’s and doctorate degrees of high salaried lawyers, doctors, and professors.”

“Only 16-17 percent of Americans have federal student loan debt, and yet, your plan will require their debts be redistributed and paid by the vast majority of taxpayers,” the letter to Biden reads. “Shifting the burden of debt from the wealthy to working Americans has a regressive impact that harms lower income families.”

When reached for comment, Jennifer Napier-Pearce, communications director and senior advisor in the Cox administration, said the governor could not be reached because he is traveling overseas and referred The Salt Lake Tribune to the language in the letter.

Cox’s weekly schedule indicates he is in the Middle East this week as part of a trade mission with World Trade Center Utah. He visited Israel on Monday, according to his Twitter account, and his schedule says he will be in the United Arab Emirates through the rest of the week. Others on the trip include Utah House Speaker Brad Wilson and Utah Senate President Stewart Adams.

Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds, who led the effort behind the letter, said in a news release Tuesday that the group of GOP governors support efforts to make higher education more affordable, but not at the expense of taxpayers.

“These outcomes hurt everyone, but none more so than the millions of working-class Americans who’ve already paid off their loans or chosen not to borrow,” Reynolds said in the news release.