The Biden administration is sending signals this week that wide-scale student loan forgiveness is under serious consideration. Here’s the latest.
Biden Reportedly Confirms that Student Loan Forgiveness Is Very Much On The Table
Biden reportedly told members of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus this week that officials are seriously looking at widespread student loan cancellation. According to CBS News, one lawmaker confirmed that Biden is considering his options, including forgiving student loan debt “entirely” for a broad swath of borrowers.
Rep. Tony Cardenas (D-CA) told the Washington Post that Biden was “incredibly positive” about enacting broad student loan forgiveness via executive action, and that Biden could act soon.
Biden’s reported comments are just the latest in a series of suggestions by top White House officials and key Democrats in Congress that the administration is very much seriously looking at enacting widespread student loan forgiveness. Earlier this month, Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY) — who has become a leading proponent of Biden using executive action to cancel student debt — told activists that in recent conversations about the issue, the President was “more open to it than ever before.”
Previously, White House press Secretary Jen Psaki had told reporters that Biden “has not ruled out” using executive action to cancel substantial amounts of student loan debt. And in March, White House Chief of Staff Ronald Klain said, “Whether or not there is some executive action [on] student debt forgiveness… is a decision we’re going to take” before student loan payments resume.
The comments by Biden and other White House officials reflect a potential shift by the President, who has previously expressed reluctance to cancel large amounts of student loan debt unilaterally through executive action.
Biden Has Already Cancelled $17 Billion in Student Loan Debt
The Biden administration has so far already approved $17 billion in student loan forgiveness for borrowers, according to the Education Department. The administration has been using a “targeted” approach to student loan forgiveness by relaxing rules and expanding access to key existing programs, such as the Total and Permanent Disability (TPD) discharge program and Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF). The administration also recently extended the ongoing pause on student loan payments and interest to August 31.
Last week, the administration announced historic fixes to the troubled income based repayment system for federal student loans, which will result in millions of dollars in near-immediate student loan forgiveness for 40,000 borrowers, according to the Department.
But $17 billion in student loan cancellation is a mere fraction of 1 percent of total outstanding student loan debt. And student loan borrower activists and advocacy groups have urged Biden to go much further.
“We are optimistic that [the administration’s recent] set of reforms will help many borrowers and families who felt that student debt had become a lifelong burden,” said Student Debt Crisis Center Natalia Abrams in a statement last week. “However… [m]illions of people are drowning in debt and a piecemeal policy approach won’t reach them all. To guarantee that everyone impacted by the student debt crisis is given an opportunity to thrive and access the American Dream, we must broadly cancel student debt now.”