Pressure from advocates for student loan borrowers and top Democrats to convince President Biden to enact widespread student loan forgiveness continues.
“We’re going to win,” Majority Leader Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) said at a virtual event last week hosted by the Debt Collective, a debtors’ union that advocates for student borrowers. “Student debt is an anchor that brings our people down. We are asking President Biden with the stroke of a pen to cancel student debt.
Will Biden embrace student loan forgiveness using executive action?
Schumer became a leading proponent of student loan forgiveness and frequently associated with Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Rep. Ayanna Pressley (D-MA) and other progressives in a year-long campaign to persuade President Biden to forgive $50,000 or more in federal student loan debt for every borrower using executive action.
Biden pledged support for student loan forgiveness during his 2020 presidential campaign. Specifically, Biden had proposed a program to forgive undergraduate federal student loan debt for borrowers with incomes below $125,000. $ per year who attended public institutions or historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs) and private minority-serving institutions (MSI). He also said he would support initiatives to forgive $10,000 in student loans for borrowers.
But Biden stopped short of backing larger amounts of student loan forgiveness and voiced opposition to the $50,000 figure proposed by leading advocates. Biden and White House officials have consistently expressed uncertainty about whether he would have sufficient legal authority to unilaterally write off student loan debt through executive action, rather than signing a bill passed by the Congress. The White House has said it would sign such a bill, but no student loan forgiveness bill appears to be forthcoming, and broad student debt relief has not been included in the proposal. Biden’s radical “Build Back Better,” which stalled last year.
Borrower advocacy groups, student loan legal and academic experts, and key members of Congress — including Senator Schumer — have argued that key provisions of existing federal law governing the higher education system , such as the Higher Education Act and the HEROES Act of 2003, contain sufficiently clear language that gives broad powers to the Secretary of Education to write off federal student loan debt from borrowers. But this view is not universally shared, and other academics and legal experts, including several former Department of Education officials and lawyers, have argued that this interpretation is incorrect and that Congress never intended that these laws allow a president to simply cancel federal student loan debt on such a mass scale.
White House officials were unclear about Biden’s intention, saying only that the administration is preparing for borrowers to return to repayment in May, after the end of the nearly two-year long hiatus on loans. student loan repayments. Biden and his Secretary of Education, Miguel Cardona, pointed to the administration’s efforts to adopt a more “targeted” student loan forgiveness by expanding access to existing programs, such as the Civil Service Loan Forgiveness. .
New poll shows public support for at least some amount of student loan forgiveness
As the student loan forgiveness debate continues in Washington, a new survey released this week by the Student Borrower Protection Center and Data for Progress found widespread support for canceling student debt, with 63% of likely voters backing a federal initiative to cancel at least some student loan debt for borrowers.
While only one in four respondents was in favor of canceling all outstanding student loans for every borrower, the poll found broad support for at least some form of widespread student loan forgiveness. 61% of respondents without a college degree expressed support for debt cancellation, as did 58% of respondents without student debt and 57% of voters over 45. At the same time, less than a third of respondents indicated that the federal government should not cancel student debt at all. Proponents presented student loan forgiveness as a racial justice issueand nearly 9 in 10 black survey respondents supported at least some student debt cancellation.
“These results make it clear that student debt is weighing on the minds and pockets of hard-working, everyday Americans, and that canceling student debt could hand President Biden a political victory by relieving millions of Americans,” said Ethan Winter, senior polling analyst at Data. for Progress, in a statement.
Supporters are also pushing the Biden administration to pass other student loan reforms
Student loan advocacy organizations are not just pushing for widespread debt cancellation. They also call on the Biden administration to take significant steps to reform the student loan system going forward. Supporters are pushing the administration to relax an Education Department policy that universally opposes borrowers seeking to discharge their federal student loans in bankruptcy. And they also suggest the administration take sweeping executive action to overhaul the federal income-based reimbursement plan system.
Further Reading on Student Loans
One Million Borrowers Could Get Expanded Student Loan Forgiveness Starting This Month, Biden Official Says
Unraveling Student Loan Forgiveness: Who Qualifies for Three Complicated Programs for Public Service Workers
Is student loan forgiveness taxable in 2022? It is complicated.
Biden could ‘make a decision now’ on student loan forgiveness, says key senator