Biden Admin Announces 16 Million Approvals for Pending Student Debt Cancellation Plan

By Epoch Times Staff

January 30, 2023  Updated: January 30, 2023
January 30, 2023
Updated: January 30, 2023
President Joe Biden (L) announces student loan relief with Education Secretary Miguel Cardona (R) at the White House on Aug. 24, 2022. (Olivier Douliery/AFP via Getty Images)

President Joe Biden is continuing to pursue his plan to cancel up to $20,000 in student debt for millions of Americans and announced that more than 16 million Americans have been approved for the program.

In August 2022, Biden announced his plan to cancel up to $20,000 in student debt held by Pell Grant recipients and up to $10,000 in debt held by non-Pell Grant recipients earning less than $125,000 per year. On Jan. 27, the Biden White House provided an update on the progress of applications, stating that more than 26.26 million Americans had either applied or had already been deemed eligible for the debt cancellation program within the first month of its rollout.

The update provided a state-by-state breakdown of this figure and showed that more than 16.48 million of those borrowers’ applications had been fully approved by the Department of Education and sent to loan servicers. However, the White House noted that the student debt relief hasn’t been able to go through because of various lawsuits challenging the program.

“Overall, more than 40 million borrowers would qualify for the Biden Administration’s debt relief program,” the White House stated. “Nearly 90% of the benefits of the relief going to out-of-school borrowers would go to those earning less than $75,000 per year. Millions of those borrowers could be experiencing the benefits of that relief today—were it not for lawsuits brought on by elected officials in some of their own states.”

While Biden touted the benefits that student loan borrowers would see if his plan were to go through, opponents of the plan have pointed to its high costs and the need for U.S. taxpayers to cover those costs on behalf of debtors who aren’t fully paying off the financial obligations to which they agreed.

Lawsuits Block Debt Cancellation

Within days of Biden announcing his debt cancellation program, both Republicans and Democrats criticized the idea. The program also quickly drew several legal challenges, and in November 2022, the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals granted an injunction sought by the Republican attorneys general of Nebraska, Missouri, Arkansas, Iowa, Kansas, and South Carolina. The injunction blocked the program from moving forward.

The Republican attorneys general argued that Biden’s plan couldn’t proceed because it wasn’t authorized by Congress. They also said the plan would unfairly burden working-class families and further worsen inflation.

Another lawsuit, brought by the Job Creators Network Foundation Legal Action Fund, a small-business advocacy group, argued that the rollout of the debt cancellation plan violated the Administrative Procedure Act’s notice-and-comment procedures by not first giving the public a period of time to provide input and comment about the program.

The Biden administration has since taken its debt cancellation plan to the U.S. Supreme Court, which kept the plan on hold and agreed to hear the case.

In a January filing, the Biden administration defended the debt cancellation effort, arguing that the Higher Education Relief Opportunities for Students (HEROES) Act of 2003 grants the Department of Education the authority to issue waivers or other relief to recipients of student financial aid programs “in connection with a war or other military operation or national emergency.” The national emergency Biden cited was the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Republican attorneys general have argued that Biden’s claim that COVID-19 constitutes an emergency is undercut by the fact that he had described plans to cancel student debt as part of his 2020 presidential campaign.

“The Act requires a real connection to a national emergency,” the attorneys general said. “But the Department’s reliance on the COVID-19 pandemic is a pretext to mask the President’s true goal of fulfilling his campaign promise to erase student loan debt.”

Supreme Court oral arguments for the case are scheduled to begin on Feb. 28.

The Price Tag

Exact totals for the cost of the debt cancellation plan are a matter of debate.

The Biden administration believes that the student debt cancellation plan will cost about $30 billion per year over the next 10 years, for a total cost of $300 billion over the next decade.

Other estimates are higher. The National Taxpayers Union Foundation estimated that Biden’s plan would actually cost between $386 billion and $405 billion in net costs, leaving the average American with an increased tax burden. Each American taxpayer would bear an extra burden of $2,503 to cover the program.

Another component of Biden’s plan to reform student loans includes lowering the monthly payment requirements and freezing interest accumulations for borrowers who make their loan payments on time. The Biden administration estimates that their repayment plan would cost nearly $138 billion over the next decade, while some critics have put the true cost at closer to $200 billion.

The Heritage Foundation has also predicted that canceling student debts could lead to colleges increasing their tuition rates because students will have more access to funding.

From NTD News

Ryan Morgan

Ryan Morgan

Ryan Morgan is a contributing news writer for NTD News.

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