Biden Says 22 Million Borrowers Have Applied for Debt Cancellation

By Hugh T. Ferguson, NASFAA Managing Editor

President Joe Biden on Friday took to the Delaware State University to deliver remarks on his student loan debt relief program, where he re-iterated the parameters of the plan and said that roughly 22 million borrowers have applied for the relief.

Biden also indicated that the vast majority of those applications were completed on a mobile device.

The speech was also used to remind student loan borrowers that the application period for the administration’s Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) waiver will expire on October 31. 

The PSLF waiver, announced in October of 2021, gives borrowers credit for prior payments that would not otherwise count toward PSLF. While NASFAA and a number of other higher education groups have urged the administration to extend the waiver, Biden made clear that the waiver period was coming to an end this month and that borrowers need to take advantage now before the window to apply expires. 

Biden’s speech comes amid the ramping up of campaigning for the midterm elections. The president himself has been campaigning through many states with contested races that could change the power dynamics of Congress. In his remarks on Friday, Biden spoke extensively about the actions his administration has taken to decrease the national deficit and hammer Republican critiques of his debt cancellation plan.

“Republican members of Congress, Republican governors, are doing everything they can to deny this relief even to their own constituents,” Biden said. “As soon as I announced my administration’s plan on student debt they started attacking it saying all kinds of things. Their outrage is wrong and it is hypocritical.”

Biden then went on to read through a list of Republican members of Congress who had their Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans canceled, and called their critiques of student loan debt cancellation hypocritical. 

Republicans have lambasted Biden’s move, and conservative groups along with GOP state officials have been ramping up their efforts to formulate a legal challenge to prevent the administration from carrying out the relief. But as of Friday, none have been successful in derailing the program.

“This is an illegal action and there are multiple pending lawsuits,” said Rep. Virginia Foxx (R-N.C.), ranking member of the House Education and Labor committee, in response to a pair of challenges being tossed out by the courts. “We will continue to support those challenges and protect taxpayer dollars from this abuse of the executive pen.”

In his remarks Biden also acknowledged that there were a number of legal challenges percolating through the court system looking to stop his action.

“They’ve been fighting us in the courts, but just yesterday a state court and the Supreme Court said, ‘No, we’re on Biden’s side,’” he said.

Late Friday evening, a federal judge halted the administration from “discharging any student loan debt under the Cancellation program” as it considers a request to prevent the administration from implementing the relief program.

In the meantime the White House said it will continue to accept, review, and prepare new applications for cancellation.

This legal challenge is expected to be considered on an expedited basis by the court with an update expected as soon as Monday or Tuesday.


Publication Date: 10/24/2022

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