The White House forgave $1.5 billion in student loan debt for attendees of the now-closed Westwood College on Tuesday, bringing the total relief under the Biden Administration to a whopping $34 billion even before President Joe Biden’s sweeping loan forgiveness plan unveiled last week goes into effect.
The measure forgives all debt for the 79,000 Westwood students who enrolled at the school online or at its Westminster, Colorado, campus between 2002 and 2015, and took out federal loans, the Education Department announced Tuesday.
A for-profit school that closed in 2016, Westwood “engaged in widespread misrepresentations about the value of its credentials” to its students, the Education Department said.
The announcement follows similar relief programs earlier this year: The White House canceled $5.8 billion in debt for Corinthian College students in June and $3.9 billion for ITT Technical Institute attendees earlier this month.
Following policy changes last year, the Biden Administration has also forgiven more than $10 billion in student loan debt for 175,000 public service workers and $9 billion for 425,000 borrowers with total and permanent disabilities.
The targeted relief efforts coincides with Biden’s highly anticipated announcement last Wednesday forgiving up to $10,000 in student loan debt for all borrowers who make less than $125,000 annually (or $250,000 household income) and up to $20,000 for borrowers who qualified for federal Pell grants for low-income first-time college students who also fall under the income threshold.
“Like Corinthian & ITT, Westwood College exploited students & abused federal financial aid,” Education Secretary Miguel Cardona tweeted. “Borrowers shouldn’t get stuck with that bill.”
The federal government had already forgiven debt for more than 4,400 Westwood attendees after the school misled students about job prospects and the transferability of credits, and the Education Department noted the blanket discharge was an efficient way to streamline a high volume of applications for relief. Biden’s blanket relief plan could wipe out the remaining debt balances of the 53% of all borrowers who hold less than $20,000 in debt. It’s unclear exactly how much total student debt relief the expansive forgiveness will provide given the eligibility requirements, though estimates expect it will be more than $300 billion, a large chunk of the $1.62 trillion in federal student loan debt held by Americans.