Student borrowers and advocacy groups continue to pressure President Biden to enact sweeping student loan forgiveness. But administration officials are touting $15 billion in student loan forgiveness that has already been issued to hundreds of thousands of borrowers in Biden’s first year in office.
Student loan forgiveness under Biden: $15 billion for 675,000 borrowers
“I’m proud of everything our team has done. [the U.S. Department of Education] has accomplished in this first year and remain inspired and determined to accomplish even more in the months and years to come,” Education Secretary Miguel Cardona said in a statement. Tweeter Thursday, marking exactly one year since President Biden took office. Cardona shared a graphic celebrating the administration’s achievements in education policy, including billions of dollars in student loan forgiveness for 675,000 borrowers.
The student loan forgiveness Cardona mentioned stems in large part from the Biden administration’s expansion of three key existing federal student loan relief programs:
- Civil Service Loan Waiver (PSLF): As part of the Limited PSLF Waiver program unveiled by the Department of Education in October, the Biden administration is relaxing rules governing the complicated student loan forgiveness program for borrowers who have dedicated their careers to nonprofit organizations. non-profit or public. Through Oct. 31, 2022, the Department is expanding the definition of “eligible payments” to include most types of federal student loans and any type of repayment plan, allowing tens of thousands of borrowers to get immediate forgiveness loan, and many more to get closer to the 120 total payments required to qualify for relief.
- Total and Permanent Disability Leave (TPD): Under the TPD Discharge program, the Biden administration has provided automatic federal student loan forgiveness for hundreds of thousands of disabled borrowers who receive Social Security disability benefits. In addition, the administration indefinitely suspended post-release monitoring of a borrower’s employment earnings, which was required under federal rules for three years after the release was approved. The Department of Education is currently working on revising the TPD discharge regulations to permanently eliminate income monitoring and make it easier for borrowers to apply for TPD discharge in the future.
- Defense of the borrower until reimbursement: The Biden administration tried to fix the Borrower Defense Until Repayment program, which allows federal student loan borrowers to seek forgiveness of their debt if their school has engaged in certain types of fraud or misrepresentations that caused them to attend or remain enrolled. The Department reversed a previous policy allowing officials to grant little or no relief, even for approved borrower defense claims, and attempted to expedite claims for certain groups of borrowers who attended specific for-profit schools. Yet the program remains mired in bureaucratic and legal disputes, and the Department still has a large backlog of thousands of unprocessed applications.
Biden also extended the ongoing payment pause on federal student loan billing and interest until May 1, adding to the $60 billion in canceled payments and accrued interest.
Will Biden offer more student loan forgiveness?
As the administration celebrates its recent initiatives, the $15 billion in student loan forgiveness awarded so far represents less than 1% of total student debt outstanding. Biden campaigned to provide $10,000 in federal student loan forgiveness to each borrower. He also proposed to forgive all federal undergraduate student loan debt for borrowers with annual incomes below $125,000 who attended public colleges and universities or historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs) and private institutions serving minorities (MSI).
But Biden expressed reluctance to act unilaterally without Congress, reluctance to support a greater amount of student loan forgiveness, and uncertainty that he would have the legal authority to rely solely on government action. executive. Asked about the student loan forgiveness at a press conference earlier this week, Biden ignored the question.
Biden ordered the education and justice departments to explore the potential legality of a broad student loan forgiveness last April, but the resulting legal memos — which some White House officials say , would be released soon – have yet to be produced.
Still, additional student loan forgiveness initiatives by Biden are not out of place. The extended payment pause gives the administration more time to consider its options, including a proposed temporary expansion of income-contingent repayment plans touted by some advocacy groups that could result in billions more in rebates. student loan if adopted.
Further Reading on Student Loans
Student Loan Forgiveness Updates: New Changes Coming in 2022 for Public Service Borrowers
Navient Student Loan Settlement: Who Qualifies for Relief and What to Do
4 Signs Student Loan Forgiveness Is Not Out of Order
Income-based repayment: Advocates call on Biden to pass sweeping reforms for student loan borrowers