The Biden administration announced Friday that it will forgive $39 billion in federal student loans for more than 800,000 borrowers who enrolled in income-driven repayment plans.
The Education Department said the plan will forgive the loans through “fixes” to the number of monthly payments borrowers have made.
The department announced in April 2022 that it would offer a one-time adjustment to account for certain payments that, for a variety of reasons, may not have been credited toward loan forgiveness under the income-based program.
“For far too long, borrowers fell through the cracks of a broken system that failed to keep accurate track of their progress towards forgiveness,” Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona said in a statement. “By fixing past administrative failures, we are ensuring everyone gets the forgiveness they deserve.”
The announcement follows last month’s Supreme Court ruling that overturned President Biden’s controversial proposal to cancel $400 billion in student loan debt, including up to $20,000 in relief for borrowers who met certain conditions. But within hours, Biden announced a new approach to help provide relief.
Vice President Kamala Harris said the forgiveness applies to borrowers who have been paying down their loans for at least two decades “and should qualify for relief.”
“Instead, many were placed into forbearance by loan servicers in violation of the rules, and others did not get appropriate credit for their monthly payments,” she said in a statement.
While the plan may well invite legal challenges, Biden has described it as “legally sound.”
“It’s going to take longer, but, in my view, it’s the best path that remains to providing for as many borrowers as possible with debt relief,” Biden said.
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