5 things to know about Biden’s promise to cancel student debt
President Biden is rumored to be contemplating $10,000 in student loan forgiveness per borrower two years after promising relief to millions of Americans during his 2020 presidential campaign.
However, the debt forgiveness has been slow-coming, with progressives pestering the president to deliver on his campaign promise since he took office.
The issue is shaping up to become a hot topic before midterms, here’s what you should know about Biden’s promise on student loan debt:
Biden is looking at $10,000 in relief, possibly more
Sources familiar with the situation told The Hill on Friday that Biden is considering canceling $10,000 in student loan debt per borrower.
“But the door has been open to possibly larger,” one source told The Hill. “Lots of options on the table. They are doing a lot of listening right now.”
Biden said earlier this week he would have more to say on the topic in the coming weeks, but tempered expectations of some Democrats who have been pushing for $50,000 in relief.
“I am considering dealing with some debt reduction,” Biden said. “I am not considering $50,000 debt reduction, but I’m in the process of taking a hard look at whether or not there will be additional debt forgiveness and I’ll have an answer on that in the next couple of weeks.”
Biden promised $10,000 for student debt forgiveness during his presidential campaign in 2020, when other opponents were advocating for $50,000 in relief or total cancellation.
Biden keeps extending student loan freeze
Biden has been attempting to take the pressure off forgiving debt by extending the freeze on student loan payments that was enacted during the start of the coronavirus pandemic.
The payments were first put on pause by the Trump administration in 2020, and Biden has extended the moratorium twice.
The first time Biden extended the pause on payments was in December, and they were set to begin again May 1. He again extended the payments earlier this month and said they will go back into place Aug. 31.
“That additional time will assist borrowers in achieving greater financial security and support the Department of Education’s efforts to continue improving student loan programs,” Biden said at the time.
Biden faces pressure from Democrats to act before midterms
Biden’s announcement this week and willingness to do more on the issue comes ahead of the 2022 midterms, in which Democrats are slated to have an uphill battle.
The move to forgive some student loan debt is agreed on by much of the Democratic party, including top leaders such as Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.).
“Pressure is mounting from all fronts. It’s mounting from grassroots, it’s mounting from the public, and it’s mounting from members of Congress. And the reality of the economy, the midterms, there are several pressures that are aligning. They really have to deliver,” Thomas Gokey, an organizer with the Debt Collective, told The Hill in January.
As Democrats face a tough midterm election, Biden acting on the issue could be a nice boost for the party as the forgiveness of student loans would positively affect tens of millions of Americans.
Republicans push back on student loan forgiveness
Republicans have been staunchly against forgiving student loan debts, arguing that a person agreed to the amount they signed in federal debt and it would be unfair to those who had to pay off their loans.
Republicans have also said that student loan forgiveness would benefit borrowers with high incomes and create an unnecessary burden on the taxpayer.
In line with that thought, multiple Republicans on Wednesday introduced the “Stop Reckless Student Loan Actions Act.”
The legislation would forbid Biden from unilaterally forgiving loans and limit the president’s ability to continue the freeze of student loan payments.
“As Americans continue to return to the workforce more than two years since the pandemic began, it is time for borrowers to resume repayment of student debt obligations,” Senate Minority Whip John Thune (R-S.D.) said.
Student loan forgiveness is popular among public
A recent Morning Consult and Politico poll found that 64 percent of Americans believe there should be some student loan forgiveness.
Thirteen percent said low-income Americans should get total student loan forgiveness and 19 percent supported student debt cancellation for all Americans.
Other polls have shown similar favorability for student loan forgiveness, as the debt is held by millions of Americans.
In total, there is $1.75 trillion in student loan debt owed by more than 40 million Americans.