President Joe Biden’s longstanding push to make college a “pathway to the middle class rather than a financial burden on families” took a significant step forward this week. The Biden Administration approved an additional 125,000 Americans for $9 billion in debt relief.
These measures, achieved through enhancements to income-driven repayment (IDR) and Public Service Loan Forgiveness, along with debt cancellations for those with permanent disabilities, bring the total approved debt relief during the Biden-Harris Administration to $127 billion for nearly 3.6 million Americans.
The approved relief includes:
• $5.2 billion in additional debt relief for 53,000 borrowers under Public Service Loan Forgiveness programs.
• Nearly $2.8 billion in new debt relief for nearly 51,000 borrowers through fixes to income-driven repayment. These borrowers made 20 years or more of payments but have yet to receive the relief they were entitled to.
• $1.2 billion for nearly 22,000 borrowers with a total or permanent disability, identified and approved for discharge through a data match with the Social Security Administration.
According to a White House Fact Sheet, the Department of Education is also releasing state-by-state totals of debt relief approved under the Biden-Harris Administration through fixes to IDR and Public Service Loan Forgiveness.
In the Fact Sheet, the White House said these actions are part of a broader strategy by the Biden-Harris Administration to ease the burden of student loans and ensure that higher education is accessible to all.
Earlier this year, the administration introduced the Student Aid Verification for Education (SAVE) initiative, offering an affordable student loan repayment plan that often reduces monthly payments to as low as $0, preventing accrued interest from increasing balances.
The administration said it had secured the most significant increase in Pell Grants in a decade. It implemented new regulations to protect graduates from career programs that result in insurmountable debts or inadequate earnings. Following the Supreme Court’s decision on the original student debt relief plan, Biden announced an alternative approach through negotiated rulemaking under the Higher Education Act.
Further, the Education Department recently disclosed the individuals selected to serve on the negotiating committee and provided an issue paper to guide the initial negotiating session. The department urged the committee to consider ways the administration can assist borrowers, including those with balances exceeding their initial loans, applicants eligible for relief under existing repayment plans who have yet to apply, and borrowers facing financial hardship not addressed by the current system.
To date, the White House noted that the Biden-Harris Administration had approved $127 billion in debt cancellation for nearly 3.6 million borrowers, with categories including:
• Close to $42 billion for nearly 855,000 borrowers qualified for forgiveness through income-driven repayment by correcting historical discrepancies in qualifying payments.
• Nearly $51 billion for 715,000 public servants under the Public Service Loan Forgiveness programs.
• $11.7 billion is designated for almost 513,000 borrowers experiencing total and permanent disability.
• A sum of $22.5 billion was assigned to over 1.3 million borrowers who suffered due to school-related fraud, abrupt institutional closures, or were covered by pertinent court settlements.
“For years, millions of eligible borrowers were unable to access the student debt relief they qualified for, but that’s all changed thanks to President Biden and this administration’s relentless efforts to fix the broken student loan system,” Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona said in a statement.
Stacy M. Brown is an NNPA Newswire senior national correspondent.