Cardona Discusses ED’s Commitment to Affordability in Higher Ed

By Hugh T. Ferguson, NASFAA Senior Staff Reporter

With Teacher Appreciation Week underway, Education Secretary Miguel Cardona took some time to highlight the ways in which the Department of Education (ED) is working to ensure that pathways to higher education become more accessible and affordable, while touting the administration’s efforts to overhaul debt relief programs. 

In a discussion with Axios, Cardona offered some high level remarks on ED’s work to provide targeted relief to public servants through the Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) program.

Through ED’s implementation of a limited waiver, giving borrowers credit for prior completed payments that would not otherwise count toward PSLF, Cardona recounted a number of teachers who have now been able to see their balances forgiven.

Cardona also said that the PSLF program should have been administering relief in 2017 under the previous administration, but that due to a combination of “benign neglect” and needed administrative fixes, borrowers were not seeing the intended relief reflected on their accounts, which resulted in high denial rates.

Cardona also used his remarks to stress the importance of evolving the pathways to higher education, ensuring that alternative forms of higher education promote clear career pathways, and helping to promote two-year schools that have strong workforce partnerships.

Discussions surrounding the ongoing payment pause for federal student loans or the prospect of the administration looking to implement broadscale debt forgiveness were not directly addressed, but Cardona did highlight ED’s efforts to provide targeted relief.

"Loan forgiveness is one thing, but we're also fixing the problems that got us to where we are," Cardona said of targeted relief implemented through PSLF and borrower defense. "We're cleaning up messes, we're also fixing the system to make sure this doesn't happen again."


Publication Date: 5/11/2022

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