More than 40 million Americans could see their student loan debt reduced — and in many cases eliminated — under the long-awaited forgiveness plan President Joe Biden announced Wednesday, a historic but politically divisive move in the run-up to the midterm elections.
Fulfilling a campaign promise, Biden is erasing $10,000 in federal student loan debt for those with incomes below $125,000 a year, or households that earn less than $250,000. He’s canceling an additional $10,000 for those who received federal Pell Grants to attend college.
It’s seen as an unprecedented attempt to stem the tide of America’s rapidly rising student debt, but it doesn’t address the broader issue — the high cost of college.
Biden also extended a pause on federal student loan payments for what he called the “final time.” The pause is now set to run through the end of the year, with repayments to restart in January.
“Both of these targeted actions are for families who need it the most: working and middle class people hit especially hard during the pandemic,” Biden said at the White House Wednesday afternoon.
The cancellation applies to federal student loans used to attend undergraduate and graduate school, along with Parent Plus loans. Current college students qualify if their loans were issued before July 1. For dependent students, their parents’ household income must be below $250,000.
Students will qualify to have up to $10,000 forgiven if their loan is held by the Department of Education and they make less than $125,000 individually or $250,000 for a family.
If they received Pell grants, which are reserved for undergraduates with the most significant financial need, they can have up to $20,000 forgiven. If they are a current borrower and a dependent student, they will be eligible for relief based on their parents’ income, rather than their own.