While the White House and lawmakers continue to mull the idea of student loan forgiveness, a group of Republican senators led by Richard Burr (R-N.C.), ranking member of the chamber's education committee, on Wednesday introduced a bill that would prohibit President Joe Biden from canceling any amount of student loan debt.
Burr and his colleagues — including Sens. Mitt Romney of Utah, Tim Scott of South Carolina, Bill Cassidy of Louisiana, and Thom Tillis of North Carolina — claim wiping out the debts of millions of student loan borrowers would increase inflation, incentivize institutions to increase tuition, add to the national debt, and worsen inequality by primarily benefiting wealthier individuals.
Their bill, dubbed the Student Loan Accountability Act, would prevent the Biden administration from forgiving any amount of outstanding federal student loans — with exceptions for options already in place through Public Service Loan Forgiveness or income-driven repayment plans, among others.
"Working Americans are struggling to afford essentials like gas and groceries under the worst inflation in 40 years, but that won't stop the Biden Administration from pushing more inflationary policies that primarily benefit the highest earner," Burr said in a press release. "Taxpayers who did not attend higher education or paid off their student loans responsibly should not be footing the bill for those who didn't. Not only is that patently unfair, it doesn't solve the root problem."
The Biden administration is facing pressure on all fronts as progressives urge the president to completely erase outstanding federal student loan debt, and the White House weighs what options it has to take any action on debt relief outside of the current moratorium on loan payments and interest accrual during the pandemic.
It's unclear when any forgiveness may be announced, or how it would be structured. The White House is also reportedly considering implementing income caps along with any potential forgiveness — a move that would prove logistically difficult due to current data-sharing restrictions between federal agencies.
Just this week, NASFAA released a white paper examining the current shortcomings of the student loan system, including in repayment, servicing, and default, and argued that loan forgiveness absent any comprehensive reform to the entire system — though welcome to borrowers — would be incomplete. The paper provides more than 30 targeted, systemic policy solutions to improve student loan servicing practices, rethink the terms and conditions of student loan repayment, increase institutional and program accountability, and reform student loan default.
"As the president and Congress debate and consider widespread debt forgiveness, we call attention to the noticeable absence and urgently needed policy reforms that will prevent borrowers from being in this same exact position in the future," said NASFAA President and CEO Justin Draeger.
Publication Date: 5/20/2022