Biden Widens Student Loan Relief to More Than 10% of Borrowers

(Bloomberg) -- More than one in 10 Americans with federal student loans have been approved for some measure of debt relief under President Joe Biden, the White House said, as it announced a new round of forgiveness.

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More than 160,000 borrowers will benefit from the latest package, valued at $7.7 billion, the administration said Wednesday. Individuals enrolled in the government’s income-driven repayment plans and public servants who have worked for at least a decade will benefit from the actions.

These moves bring the total beneficiaries of the Education Department’s campaign to alleviate student debt to an estimated 4.75 million Americans, including those who attended schools that made misleading claims or were accused of fraud. Borrowers on average have seen more than $35,000 canceled from their balances, Biden said in a statement.

“I promised to fight to ensure higher education is a ticket to the middle class, not a barrier to opportunity,” he added. “I will never stop working to cancel student debt – no matter how many times Republican elected officials try to stop us.”

Over the last year, the Education Department has incrementally unveiled regulatory changes to existing federal programs to allow more individuals to qualify for debt relief, mostly for individuals who have made payments for between 10 and 25 years.

Read More: Biden Moves to Finalize First Set of ‘Plan B’ Student-Debt Rules

Biden campaigned for president in 2020 on an ambitious vow to cancel student debt for middle-class Americans. His original $400 billion plan to forgive as much as $20,000 for more than 40 million people was struck down by the US Supreme Court last year.

That decision dismayed many Black, Latino and young voters — Democratic voting blocs crucial to the president’s reelection prospects.

In lieu of the initiative, the Education Department is moving ahead with a broad forgiveness proposal for individuals in specific categories, including borrowers who qualify for federal programs but have not been enrolled and students who attended “low-financial-value” programs.

According to the Federal Student Aid office, more than 43 million Americans held federal student loans as of September. Collectively, they owed $1.6 trillion.

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