More than 500,000 student borrowers — with nearly $10 billion in student loan debt — had their loans erased this year, Stacy Cowley reports for The New York Times.
President Biden has so far fended off calls for the kind of blanket debt cancellation that is a top priority of many progressive lawmakers, but a parade of relatively modest eligibility and relief enhancements adds up to a significant expansion of support for beleaguered borrowers. And more may be coming: The Education Department said it was planning regulatory changes to programs aimed at helping public servants and those on income-driven repayment plans.
There is plenty of incentive for the federal government — the primary lender for Americans who borrow for college, holding $1.4 trillion in debt owed by 43 million borrowers — to fix faltering relief programs soon. Since the pandemic took hold in March 2020, virtually all of those loans have been on an interest-free pause, which is scheduled to end Jan. 31. And every loan discharged is one fewer for the agency to service.
The department’s actions so far have generated little controversy — few oppose giving military personnel, disabled borrowers and defrauded students the relief to which they’re legally entitled — but the idea of more broadly canceling student debt is a lightning rod. Republicans dislike the idea of saddling taxpayers with the cost, and its critics on the left see it as a subsidy for those with expensive professional degrees.
“Our overall goal is permanent change,” said Kelly Leon, an Education Department spokeswoman. “We are building a student loan system that works for borrowers and provides them the relief authorized by Congress that has proven elusive for far too long.”
The push for widespread debt cancellation has overshadowed calls to mend glaring administrative problems that urgently need to be addressed, advocates say. READ THE ARTICLE →