President Biden touted student loan forgiveness initiatives that will benefit hundreds of thousands of borrowers, even as he indicated that he is considering cancelling more student debt. Here’s where things stand.
Biden Touts $17 Billion in Student Loan Forgiveness
At a press conference last week, Biden referenced his administration’s ongoing efforts to cancel student loan debt in response to a question about whether he was considering going further and enacting even broader student debt forgiveness. “Almost a million” borrowers have had their student loans forgiven under his recent initiatives, Biden said on Thursday.
Biden was referring to his “targeted” student loan forgiveness efforts, which have expanded eligibility and loosened rules for several existing federal programs. The Department of Education estimates that approximately $17 billion in student loan cancellation will result from these efforts:
- Nearly $7 billion through the Limited Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) Waiver program, which, for a limited time, dramatically expands the pool of borrowers eligible for loan forgiveness based on their careers working for nonprofit organizations and government entities.
- Nearly $8 billion in automatic student loan discharges for disabled borrowers through the Total and Permanent Disability (TPD) Discharge program.
- Over $2 billion in student loan cancellation through the Borrower Defense to Repayment program and Closed School Discharge program for borrowers defrauded by their school.
The Department’s $17 billion estimate does not include student loan forgiveness that will be provided through the administration’s recently-announced historic fixes to Income Based Repayment programs. The administration indicates that at least 40,000 borrowers will become eligible for “immediate debt cancellation” under these changes, but millions more will benefit in the coming years.
Is More Student Loan Forgiveness On The Way?
But advocates have been pushing Biden to go even further and cancel student loan debt on a broader scale using executive action. And momentum seems to be building.
“I am in the process of considering whether there will be additional debt forgiveness,” said Biden at the same press conference last week. “I’ll have an answer on that in the next couple of weeks.”
Biden ruled out cancelling $50,000 or more in student loan debt, as student loan borrower advocacy groups and key allies in Congress have urged. But the White House is considering a smaller amount of student loan forgiveness. Biden has consistently expressed support for $10,000 in student loan cancellation, which — if enacted universally — could completely erase the student loan debt for nine million borrowers. However, administration officials are also considering limitations on broad debt forgiveness, such as income caps or restricted eligibility based on a borrower’s degree program.
While Biden initially said that a decision on broad student loan forgiveness could be made within a couple of weeks, White House Press Secretary Jan Psaki subsequently suggested that it might be longer, pointing to the end of August — when the student loan payment pause is currently scheduled to end — as a target date. Top administration officials have repeatedly suggested that a decision on student loan cancellation would be made before student loan payments resume.
Biden himself said on Monday that he had “not yet” made a decision on further student loan forgiveness.