Biden administration “examines loan cancellation”

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Since taking office, the Biden administration has approved more than $ 9.5 billion in student loan relief – a large, but still relatively small, percentage of the more than $ 1.7 trillion in student loans that Americans still owe collectively.

On the campaign trail, President Joe Biden has expressed support for some form of student loan cancellation and since then House and Senate Democrats have repeatedly urged Biden to “largely” cancel until to $ 50,000 in federal debt by Order in Council during his first 100 days in office. Biden has repeatedly opposed the calls, saying he would only support up to $ 10,000 in debt relief and would prefer Congress to draft the legislation.

Education Secretary Miguel Cardona told Adam Harris, editor for The Atlantic on Tuesday that the Biden administration was still considering a large-scale loan forgiveness.

“Student debt is largely a matter of fairness. Black students, for example, are more likely to incur student debt, more likely to incur higher student debt, and more likely to default on that debt. And [they are] more likely to have left college or graduated without a degree, ”Harris said. “You mentioned that the administration is still kind of looking at the executive authority you all have over debt cancellation, what kind of state is that?” And where do you see this conversation? “

“We recognize that student debt is holding people back. And unfortunately there are a lot of people in debt who couldn’t even complete their degree, who can’t afford to pay off that debt,” Cardona replied. “So we’re focused and it’s a priority for me and for President Biden to make sure that part of the conversation is looking at the loan cancellation. These conversations continue.”

The sense that the conversation about canceling student loans is still ongoing echoes statements Cardona has made in the past, including to CNBC earlier this month.

Cardona then highlighted the recent “overhaul” of the civil service loan forgiveness program by the Education Ministry.

The PSLF “is not working,” he said. “98% of the students who applied were turned down. This is unacceptable. We must do better. through good policies and good practices. Let’s make sure we follow the civil service loan forgiveness agenda that Congress wanted over 10 years ago. “

The Education Secretary also mentioned the need to expand the Pell Grant, needs-based grants awarded by the federal government to students that do not have to be repaid.

“Let’s make sure that when we talk about how we’re creating a way forward, we push and pass the $ 1,800 Pell grant increases,” Cardona said. “I spoke to students who said ‘I wouldn’t go to college without the Pell Scholarship.'”

In April, the White House proposed to increase the Pell grant by about $ 1,400 as part of the US Plan for Families. And in June, the Department of Education proposed increasing the Pell grant by an additional $ 400 in its budget request for fiscal year 2022. However, after months of debate and negotiation, the latest version of the plan The Biden administration’s 10-year spending would only include a $ 500 increase in the maximum Pell Grant, currently set at $ 6,495.

“We will be looking at all general measures, including blanket cancellation of loans, and what our options are,” Cardona said. “But we’re not stopping there. We’re going to improve the systems that we have under our control, to alleviate the debt. And we’re going to make sure we keep the borrower at the center of the conversation, keep the student at the center of the conversation. conversation. This is something that as a first generation student I appreciate. “

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