Biden eyes broader student loan debt forgiveness

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Washington — President Joe Biden is considering a broader push to write off federal student loan debt, according to multiple reports.

Biden discussed the issue this week with the Congressional Hispanic Caucus and lawmakers said he was exploring legal options to provide some type of broader relief, according to The New York Times. There are no details yet.

Since taking office, the Biden administration has canceled more than $17 billion in student loans for about 725,000 borrowers. But that’s only part of the more than $1.6 trillion in total federal student loan debt held by 43 million people.

And Biden has yet to fulfill his campaign promise to forgive $10,000 in debt for each borrower. So far, many of the relief efforts have been more targeted and focused on public servants, people with disabilities, or those who have been defrauded by predatory for-profit colleges.

Democrats lack the votes in Congress to pass a relief bill, so advocates have urged Biden to act through an executive order. But the issue has divided his advisers, with some saying he lacks the authority, the Times said.

Student loan repayments are suspended until August. They have been on hiatus since the early days of the Covid-19 pandemic. Deadlines for restarting payments have been extended several times.

Biden plans to make a decision on canceling the loans before the current payment pause expires in August, according to the Washington Post. He stressed to lawmakers that any relief plan would focus on low-income and disadvantaged students.

Some Democrats have urged Biden to forgive up to $50,000 in debt for all borrowers, according to CBS News. Such a move would wipe out the full loan balance for almost 30 million people.

If Biden acts through executive action, legal challenges to that decision would be likely, according to the Times.

That could leave borrowers in limbo as the legal process unfolds, CBS said.

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