With everything happening with the pandemic and higher education, student loan borrowers and the advocacy groups that support these individuals are pushing for loan forgiveness regardless of the amount. Nobody thought all educational institutions and classes would switch to online instruction for such a long time.
Everything was put on hold at the beginning of the pandemic, including most non-essential work. Many people struggled to pay for their outstanding loans due to being quarantined at the beginning of the pandemic unless someone was deemed an essential worker, such as hospital staff and first responders. The government halted loan interest rates for some time to accommodate the rapidly changing way of society due to the ravaging pandemic.
The loan forgiveness program was initially designed to “entice people to work as teachers, police officers, firefighters or in other public jobs,” according to Chris Quintana with USA Today. “After 10 years working in those jobs and making payments,” Quintana said, “their college debt would be erased.” In reality, the federal government was not following up on their original idea for the loan forgiveness program and forgave virtually nobody’s debt.
President Biden picked up this program and wanted to hold it to what it was intended to do. So the Biden administration expanded three existing federal student loan relief programs: the public service loan forgiveness (PSLF), the total and permanent disability (TPD) discharge and the borrower defense to repayment.
According to Adam Minsky with Forbes, the government will be “easing the rules governing the complicated student loan forgiveness program for borrowers who have devoted their careers to nonprofit or public organizations” for the PSLF. Under the total and permanent disability discharge, people receiving Social Security disability benefits have been able to have their federal student loans canceled as provided by the Biden administration.
As Forbes explains, the borrower defense to repayment program “allows federal student loan borrowers to request cancellation of their debt if their school engaged in certain kinds of fraud or misrepresentations that induced them to attend or remain enrolled.” The Biden administration has been making changes to these programs to tailor how society is changing, allowing existential circumstances, such as the pandemic, to be considered under these programs provided by the government.
Under the Biden administration, more people will qualify for student loan forgiveness. The eligibility qualifications are changing to fit more with what is going on in the economy. According to the U.S. Department of Education, “including the borrowers eligible for immediate forgiveness under these actions, the Biden-Harris Administration has now approved more than $11.5 billion in loan cancellation for over 580,000 borrowers.”
The U.S. Department of Education also mentions that “the Biden administration is showing that we have their backs” due to teachers, nurses, first responders, public service workers and many other valuable people adapting to the pandemic.
Even though Biden did not fulfill his campaign pledge to wipe out most of the $1.75 trillion total of student debt as of February 2022, his recent action spells out the first steps to that earlier promise. Hopefully, the administration will take more steps before the midterm elections in November.