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President Joe Biden Outlines New Plans to Deliver Student Debt Relief to Over 30 Million Americans

In spite of GOP opposition and the US Supreme Court, "Biden has vowed to use every tool available to cancel student debt for as many borrowers as possible"

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Great stuff from President Joe Biden:

President Joe Biden Outlines New Plans to Deliver Student Debt Relief to Over 30 Million Americans Under the Biden-Harris Administration

Today, Biden-Harris Administration leaders will fan out across the country as President Biden announces his Administration’s new plans to cancel student debt for tens of millions of Americans. The plans, if implemented, would provide debt relief to over 30 million Americans when combined with actions the Biden-Harris Administration has already taken to cancel student debt over the past three years. While Republican elected officials try every which way to block millions of their own constituents from receiving student debt cancellation, President Biden has vowed to use every tool available to cancel student debt for as many borrowers as possible, as quickly as possible. Today, President Biden will travel to Madison, Wisconsin to announce these new plans, while Vice President Harris will travel to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Second Gentleman Douglas Emhoff will travel to Phoenix, Arizona, and Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona will travel to New York City to meet with borrowers benefitting from the Administration’s student debt relief actions.

President Biden from Day One has worked to fix the student loan system and make sure higher education is a ticket to the middle class – not a barrier to opportunity – because he knows that debt cancellation not only benefits borrowers, it benefits the entire economy.

To date, the Biden-Harris Administration has approved $146 billion in student debt relief for 4 million Americans through more than two dozen executive actions. That includes fixing Public Service Loan Forgiveness and Income-Driven Repayment plans, so borrowers finally get the relief they are entitled to under the law. It also includes launching the most affordable student loan repayment plan ever – the SAVE plan – which cuts undergraduate loan payments in half, ensures borrowers never see their balance grow from unpaid interest, helps drop millions of borrowers’ monthly payments down to $0, and cancels debt for low-balance borrowers faster. Nearly 8 million borrowers have enrolled in the SAVE plan, 4.5 million borrowers have a monthly payment of $0 under the plan, and an additional 1 million borrowers have a monthly payment of less than $100.  The Biden-Administration has also secured the largest increase to Pell Grants in a decade and has taken significant steps to hold colleges accountable for leaving borrowers with mountains of debt and without good job prospects.

Last June, in the wake of the Supreme Court’s decision blocking the Biden-Harris Administration’s original student debt relief plan, President Biden vowed to keep fighting to deliver student debt relief to borrowers held back by the burden of student loan debt. Immediately following that, the Department of Education began pursuing an alternative path to debt relief through negotiated rulemaking under the Higher Education Act.

Today’s announcement lays out the plans the Biden-Harris Administration is pursuing through that effort. In total, these plans would fully eliminate accrued interest for 23 million borrowers, would cancel the full amount of student debt for over 4 million borrowers, and provide more than 10 million borrowers with at least $5,000 in debt relief or more.

Canceling runaway interest for millions of borrowers

More than 25 million borrowers owe more than they originally borrowed, including many who have made years of payments, due to the interest rates on Federal student loans. President Biden will announce plans that, if finalized as proposed, would cancel up to $20,000 of the amount a borrower’s balance has grown due to unpaid interest on their loans after entering repayment, regardless of their income. Low and middle-income borrowers enrolled in the SAVE plan or any other income-driven repayment (IDR) plan would be eligible for the entire amount their balance has grown since entering repayment to be canceled under the Administration’s plans. This group of borrowers includes single borrowers who earn $120,000 or less and married borrowers who earn $240,000 or less. No application will be needed for borrowers to receive this relief if the plan is implemented as proposed.

Millions of the borrowers who could be helped by these plans have continued to see their balances grow because of accrued interest, despite making their monthly payments.  Many have also had this unpaid interest capitalized, meaning it is added to their principal balance and borrowers are now paying interest on that higher amount. The Administration’s plan would forgive interest balances built up to date for 25 million borrowers, with 23 million likely to have all of their balance growth forgiven.

This plan builds off the actions the Biden-Harris Administration has already taken to prevent the negative effects of excessive interest accrual on student loans going forward by eliminating all interest capitalization not required by law. The SAVE Plan does not charge unpaid interest for borrowers who make their monthly payments, and has canceled interest for at least 4.5 million borrowers to date.

Automatically canceling debt for borrowers eligible for loan forgiveness under SAVE, PSLF, closed school discharge, or other forgiveness programs but not enrolled

Too many borrowers eligible for relief – including immediate cancellation –have not been able to overcome paperwork requirements, bad advice, or other obstacles. Since its first days in office, the Biden-Harris Administration has worked to get borrowers the relief to which they are entitled.

Today, the Administration is proposing to automatically cancel debt for borrowers otherwise eligible for relief through the SAVE plan, Public Service Loan Forgiveness, or other forgiveness opportunities like closed school loan discharges but who have not successfully applied for that assistance.

Under SAVE, borrowers who originally took out $12,000 or less in loans and have been in repayment for 10 years are eligible to get their remaining debt canceled. For every additional $1,000 in loans they took out (up to $21,000 total for undergraduate loans and $26,000 total for graduate loans), a borrower is eligible for relief after an additional year of repayment. For example, if a borrower took out $13,000 in loans, they would be eligible for debt cancellation after 11 years in repayment.

Under Public Service Loan Forgiveness, borrowers in public service for 10 years who have made 120 months of qualifying payments can get their remaining student debt canceled.

The Administration’s plans would allow the Department of Education to use data it has on hand to identify borrowers otherwise eligible for this type of relief without requiring them to apply for these programs. The Administration expects this action would cancel debt for around 2 million borrowers across the country.

Canceling student debt for borrowers who entered repayment over 20 years ago

More than 2.5 million borrowers have had their share of student loans for two decades or longer and still carry debt from long-ago loans. The Biden-Harris Administration has already cancelled $45.6 billion in student debt so far for nearly 1 million borrowers who have been in repayment for at least 20 years, but never got the relief they were entitled to because of administrative problems with income-driven repayment plans. The Administration’s new proposals, if finalized as proposed, would cancel student debt for borrowers who first entered repayment 20 or more years ago. Borrowers with only undergraduate debt would qualify for forgiveness if they first entered repayment 20 years ago (on or before July 1, 2005), and borrowers with any graduate school debt would qualify if they first entered repayment 25 or more years ago (on or before July 1, 2000). Both Direct Loans and Direct Consolidation Loans that repay only undergraduate study or graduate study for 20 or 25 years respectively are eligible for relief in this proposal.  Borrowers would not need to be on an income-driven repayment plan to qualify.

Canceling student debt for borrowers who enrolled in low-financial-value programs

One of the Biden-Harris Administration’s top priorities when it comes to higher education is holding colleges accountable when they leave students with mountains of debt and without good job prospects. To this end, the Department has taken significant steps to crack down on colleges that provide low-value programs to borrowers, when they cheat students and families, and when they close unexpectedly – leaving borrowers and taxpayers to foot the bill.

Today, President Biden is announcing his Administration’s plans that, if finalized as proposed, would cancel student debt for loans associated with institutions or programs that lost their eligibility to participate in the Federal student aid program or were denied recertification because they cheated or took advantage of students. Further, borrowers who attended institutions or programs that closed and failed to provide sufficient value— for example that leave graduates with unaffordable loan payments or earnings no better than what someone with a high school diploma earns— would be eligible for relief under this proposal.

Canceling student debt for borrowers experiencing hardship paying back their loans

President Biden and his Administration recognize that the current student loan system and repayment programs don’t reach all borrowers, and for many Americans student loans continue to be a barrier for them participating in the economy, accessing economic mobility, or pursuing their dreams. The Administration’s plan for student debt relief will also include a plan that would cancel student debt for borrowers experiencing hardship in their daily lives that prevents them from fully paying back their loans now or in the future.

This plan could provide relief to millions of borrowers who experience hardship—such as borrowers who are at high risk of defaulting on their student loans, who could be eligible for automatic relief, or families who are burdened with other expenses like medical debt or child care who can apply for relief in the future.

Providing relief to millions of borrowers this year

The Biden-Harris Administration plans to release proposed rules on these plans over the coming months. If these plans are finalized as proposed, this fall the Administration would begin canceling up to $20,000 in interest for millions of borrowers and full loan forgiveness for millions more.

Building off unparalleled record canceling student debt under President Biden

Today’s announcements follow historic actions the President and his Administration have already taken to approve student debt cancellation for nearly 4 million Americans and make student loan payments easier for millions more through the SAVE plan. These actions have benefited borrowers from all 50 states and U.S. territories, borrowers from different walks of life, and borrowers of all ages. To date:

  • The Administration has canceled over $62.5 billion in student debt for 871,000 public service workers, including teachers, firefighters, nurses, and more. Prior to the Biden Administration, only 7,000 people in total had received debt forgiveness through Public Service Loan Forgiveness in the over 15 years since the program was put in place. The Biden Administration implemented fixes to make sure public service workers received the relief they are entitled to under the law, helping nearly 900,000 public service workers receive relief to date.
  • The Administration has approved $45.6 billion in debt cancellation for nearly 1 million borrowers through fixes to income-driven repayment. For too long, as a result of administrative failures and loan servicer errors, borrowers never got credit for being in repayment. The Biden-Harris Administration fixed that, and has approved debt cancellation for over 930,000 borrowers who have been in repayment for over 20 years.
  • The Administration has approved $22.5 billion in debt cancellation for borrowers cheated by their schools, who saw their schools abruptly close, or who were covered by related court settlements. The Administration has approved borrower defense and closed school discharges to provide debt cancellation for students that attended and were cheated by for-profit institutions like Corinthian Colleges and ITT Technical Institute. Less than $600 million in debt relief had been approved through borrower defense, closed school discharges, and related court settlements from all prior administrations combined, compared to the $22.5 billion approved under the Biden-Harris Administration alone.
  • The Administration has approved $14 billion in debt cancellation for over 548,000 borrowers with a total and permanent disability. Through automatic matches with the Social Security Administration and other actions, the Biden-Harris Administration has approved debt cancellation for over half a million borrowers with total and permanent disabilities.
  • The Administration launched the SAVE plan – helping borrowers of all ages and walks of life manage their monthly payments, not charging interest for millions of borrowers, and setting $0 payments for 4.5 million borrowers every month. To date, nearly 8 million borrowers have enrolled in SAVE, and 4.5 million of them have a monthly payment of $0, meaning they are also not accumulating interest that would otherwise be due. An additional million borrowers have a monthly payment of less than $100. Already the Administration has canceled debt for 153,000 borrowers enrolled in SAVE who took out low balances and have been in repayment for at least 10 years. And in July, the SAVE plan will cap monthly payments for undergraduate loans at 5% of income compared to the 10% threshold now – which will save many young borrowers money on their monthly payments. The Administration continues to encourage borrowers to sign up for the SAVE plan at studentaid.gov/SAVE to save money on their monthly payments and reach loan forgiveness faster.
  • The Administration secured the largest increase to Pell Grants in a decade, and has expanded eligibility for the maximum Pell Grant to 1.7 million more Americans. The President has taken historic steps to bring college in reach for more Americans, including low-income Americans. The President secured the largest increase to Pell Grants in a decade, expanded eligibility to Pell to 665,000 new students, and expanded eligibility for the maximum Pell Grant to 1.7 million more students. The President has also proposed making community college free so more Americans can access the promise of higher education.

President Biden will not stop fighting to cancel more student debt for as many Americans as possible, and today’s announcements are a key step forward in that effort.

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