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Frustration Mounts Over Biden’s Latest Debt Relief Plans

Frustration Mounts Over Biden’s Latest Debt Relief Plans

Inside Higher Ed

Katherine Knott
December 18, 2023
More than 43 million student loan borrowers rang in 2023 full of hope that their debt balances would drop by either $10,000 or $20,000 under President Joe Biden’s forgiveness plan. But that promised relief never materialized after the Supreme Court struck down Biden’s plan in June, leaving borrowers in limbo until student loan payments resumed in the fall following a three-year pandemic pause.
As the calendar gets ready to flip to 2024, borrowers along with student loan and consumer protection advocates are growing frustrated with the Biden administration, which is now eyeing other ways to provide relief. However, those other options are far more narrow than the initial, broad-based forgiveness plan.
The latest proposals include wiping out the balances for those who have been in repayment for more than 20 years and forgiving $20,000 for borrowers who owe more than they initially borrowed and who meet other eligibility requirements. Advocates say the administration’s plan doesn’t go far enough to help struggling borrowers.
To carry out those proposals, the Education Department is working its way through a lengthy rule-making process to issue new regulations that would provide relief under the Higher Education Act of 1965—an approach officials are hoping will pass muster if court challenges come. That process means convening a committee of negotiators to weigh in on its regulatory text. The committee first met in October, but it appeared to wrap up its work last week with little agreement about a path forward. If the negotiators reach consensus, the administration has to use its proposal; if not, the department can move forward with its plans.
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