More Than A Moratorium: How the Biden Administration Has Implemented Student Loan Relief

By Hugh T. Ferguson, NASFAA Senior Staff Reporter

On the heels of the Biden administration announcing the continuation of the student loan moratorium, student loan experts and borrowers on Wednesday dug into the ways in which the administration has gone about making strides in providing targeted student loan cancellation to borrowers.

The conversation between a top Federal Student Aid (FSA) official and Third Way, a public policy-focused think tank, looked to underscore how the regulatory changes implemented by the Biden administration has resulted in more student loan cancellation than any other administration. 

Ashley Harrington, senior advisor to the chief operating officer at FSA, used her remarks to remind borrowers how the Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) program waiver has led to more borrowers seeing their debt discharged.

While some borrowers have received full cancellation, Harrington also reminded listeners that with updated payment counts, many borrowers could now see a light at the end of the tunnel for their repayment.

“Just watching my payment count change, that is encouraging,” Harrington said of her own PSLF account. “I may not be at relief yet, but knowing that I am making progress … that is so helpful.”

Lanae Erickson, senior vice president of social policy, education & politics at Third Way, looked to dig into the complicating factors of the regulatory framework to paint a fuller picture as to where the loan portfolio stands today.

With the continuation of the payment pause, FSA reiterated that the agency would be balancing PSLF waiver processing in effect through October 31, student loan servicer exits, transferring data within the agency's student loan system, and making preparations for more long-term servicer transitions with the potential for more contracts to expire at the end of 2023.

Harrington also said that additional information would be forthcoming on how FSA and the Department of Education would be getting borrowers who were in default on their loans into good standing once payments resume.

The conversation then turned to a borrower’s experience with PSLF while working at a community college, and how they were able to utilize the waiver to have their debt canceled.

The borrower has not been aware of the program throughout his teaching career and had struggled with loan payments when starting his family. But with his loans now canceled, he has been able to turn his attention to plotting out how to best prepare for his children’s higher education.

He also said that the prospect of the realization of loan forgiveness through PSLF would encourage more people to get into teaching and public service.

Erickson also looked to get a sense of what the administration’s next steps would be for the loan portfolio and what sort of initiatives FSA would be undertaking in the months ahead.

“The vision of the secretary is a system that is more affordable and more inclusive,” Harrington said. “That is across the board of people coming in, for people currently in school, and for people when they come out and they have loans that they have to deal with.”


Publication Date: 4/7/2022

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