White House announces $9 billion in student debt relief

by Chris Lange

Chris Lange, FISM News


The White House announced on Wednesday that President Joe Biden approved the cancellation of an additional $9.2 billion in student loan debt for 125,000 borrowers.

This includes $5.2 billion in additional debt relief for 53,000 borrowers under Public Service Loan Forgiveness programs; $2.8 billion in new debt relief for 51,000 borrowers through “fixes” to income-driven repayment (SAVE Plan); and $1.2 billion for 22,000 borrowers with disabilities.

“Today’s announcement builds on all that the Biden-Harris Administration has done to make college more affordable and ensure that student loans aren’t a barrier to opportunity for students and families,” the statement read, adding that new relief brings total debt forgiveness to $127 billion for nearly 3.6 million Americans.

The White House also criticized Republican lawmakers trying to reverse the debt bailout on the grounds that it unfairly burdens taxpayers who already paid their debts or never attended college.

“Republicans in Congress have tried every which way to block these efforts and keep their own constituents under the burden of student loan debt,” officials said in a statement, as reported by The Washington Examiner. “President Biden will show that his Administration will not be deterred in delivering for the American people and giving hardworking families breathing room.”

Meanwhile, the administration is moving forward with a new plan for broader student-debt relief after the Supreme Court blocked Biden’s $440 billion student bailout. The Bench ruled, in part, that the administration improperly relied on the HEROES Act of 2003, which was intended for use in national emergencies.

Following the ruling, the administration went back to the drawing board and decided to take another stab at it using the 1965 Higher Education Act, which doesn’t require an emergency but does involve a lengthy stakeholder negotiating process that includes public comment periods.

“This new path is legally sound,” President Biden said in remarks at a July 30 briefing addressing the Supreme Court ruling. “It’s going to take longer, but, in my view, it’s the best path that remains to providing for as many borrowers as possible with debt relief.” 

The Education Department released a paper last week identifying five categories of borrowers it wants to discuss with the negotiation committee. They include:

  • Borrowers who have accrued unpaid interest resulting in balances larger than their original principal;
  • Borrowers who qualified, but did not apply, for income-driven repayment;
  • Borrowers who entered repayment before benefit programs were made available;
  • Borrowers “unable to repay” their loans “in a reasonable amount of time;” and
  • Borrowers who “experience hardship in ways that the current student loan system does not adequately address.”

The Department also published a list of the members of its new Negotiated Rulemaking Student Loan Debt Relief Committee. According to Business Insider, committee members were nominated by the public and include state attorneys general, representatives of civil rights and legal assistance organizations, student loan holders, and federal loan servicers.  The first set of negotiations will take place Oct. 10 and 11.

“The Biden-Harris Administration has taken unprecedented action to fix the broken student loan system and deliver record amounts of student debt relief,” U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona said in a Sept. 29 press release announcing the new endeavor. “Now, we are diligently moving through the regulatory process to advance debt relief for even more borrowers.”