Biden closes in on student loan forgiveness plan and extension of repayment pause: President Joe Biden on Wednesday is set to announce his long Delayed move to forgive up to $10,000 in federal student loans for many Americans and extend a pause on payments to January, according to three people familiar with the plan.
Biden closes in on student loan forgiveness plan and extension of repayment pause
Biden has faced pressure from liberals to provide broader relief to hard-hit borrowers, and from moderates and Republicans questioning the fairness of any widespread forgiveness. The delay in Biden's decision has only heightened the anticipation for what his own aides acknowledge represents a political no-win situation. The people spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss Biden's intended announcement ahead of time.
The precise details of Biden's plan, which will include an income cap limiting the forgiveness to only those earning less than $125,000 a year, were being kept to an unusually small circle within the Biden administration and were still not finalized on the eve of the announcement. The plan would likely eliminate student debt entirely for millions of Americans and wipe away at least half for millions more.
The nation's federal student debt now tops $1.6 trillion after ballooning for years. More than 43 million Americans have federal student debt, with almost a third owing less than $10,000 and more than half owing less than $20,000, according to the latest federal data.
Announcement was set for the White House after Biden returns from vacation in Rehoboth Beach, Delaware. The administration had briefly considered higher education schools in the president's home state for a larger reveal, but scaled back their plans.
Biden was initially skeptical of student loan debt cancellation as he faced off against more progressive Democratic Sens. Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders, who had proposed cancellations of $50,000 or more, during the 2020 primaries.
As he tried to shore up support among younger voters and prepare for a general election battle against then-President Donald Trump, Biden unveiled his initial proposal for debt cancellation of $10,000 per borrower, with no mention of an income cap.
Biden narrowed his campaign promise in recent months by embracing the income limit as soaring inflation took a political toll and as he aimed to head off political attacks that the cancellation would benefit those with higher take-home pay. But Democrats, from members of congressional leadership to those facing tough re-election bids this November, have pushed the administration to go as broad as possible on debt relief, seeing it in part as a galvanizing issue, particularly for Black and young voters this fall.
The frenzied last-minute lobbying continued Tuesday even as Biden remained on his summer vacation. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., one of the loudest advocates in recent years for canceling student loan debt, spoke privately on the phone with Biden, imploring the president to forgive as much debt as the administration can, according to a Democrat with knowledge of the call.
In his pitch, Schumer argued to Biden that doing so was the right thing to do morally and economically, said the Democrat, who asked for anonymity to describe a private conversation.
Inside the administration, officials have discussed since at least early summer forgiving more than $10,000 of student debt for certain categories of borrowers, such as Pell Grant recipients, according to three people with knowledge of the deliberations. That remained one of the final variables being considered by Biden heading into Wednesday's announcement.
Democrats are betting that Biden, who has seen his public approval rating tumble over the last year, can help motivate younger voters to the polls in November with the announcement.
Although Biden's plan is narrower than what he initially proposed during the campaign, "he'll get a lot of credit for following through on something that he was committed to," said Celinda Lake, a Democratic pollster who worked with Biden during the 2020 election.
She described student debt as a "gateway issue" for younger voters, meaning it affects their views and decisions on housing affordability and career choices. A survey of 18- to 29-year-olds conducted by the Harvard Institute of Politics in March found that 59% of those polled favored debt cancellation of some sort - whether for all borrowers or those most in need - although student loans did not rank high among issues that most concerned people in that age group.
President Biden's decision on student debt cannot become the latest example of a policy that has left Black people - especially Black women - behind, he said. "This is not how you treat Black voters who turned out in record numbers and provided 90% of their vote to once again save democracy in 2020."
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