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Student loan forgiveness: Biden’s current debt relief plans

By Jessica Silverio, September 12, 2023

President Joe Biden’s pursuit of comprehensive student loan forgiveness progresses as he navigates a new strategy following the Supreme Court’s rejection of his initial debt cancellation plan. 

The Biden-Harris Administration announced in a press release the next step in achieving student debt relief is to seek nominations for non-federal negotiators, who participate in public rulemaking negotiation sessions this fall. This process, referred to as “negotiated rulemaking”, is required under the Higher Education Act for any regulations related to the Federal student financial aid programs.  

This method entails an extended timeline, potentially spanning a year, due to mandated public hearings and continuous negotiations, which are essential for shaping the final debt relief framework. 

Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona underlined the administration’s swift response to the Supreme Court’s decision, in the press release.  

“When the Supreme Court ruled against the Biden-Harris 

Administration’s student debt relief plan, we did not waste a moment opening up a new pathway to debt relief,” Cardona said in the press release. 

Image Courtesy of Eric Haynes | Google

Cardona detailed the Student Loan Relief committee’s composition would include students, borrowers, state officials, civil rights advocates, representatives from educational institutions and other stakeholders, underscoring the goal of inclusive decision-making.  

According to the Education Data Initiative, Californians with student loan debt owe more than the average United States student loan borrower. $141.8 billion in student loan debt belongs to state residents and $37,084 is the average student loan debt. Among the state’s indebted student borrowers, 16% owe less than $5,000, 20.2% owe $20,000 to $40,000 and 2.9% owe more than $200,000. 

When CPP students on campus discussed Biden’s new student loan forgiveness plan, they expressed a mix of hope and skepticism regarding the extended timeline and the utilization of the Higher Education Act for achieving debt relief. 

Erika Shifflet, an interpersonal communications student, expressed her perspective regarding the newly proposed student loan forgiveness program. 

“I am not confident that the plan will pass, but I am hopeful,” Shifflet said. “I think the Supreme Court wants to spend money on other things and student loans are not as important to them. That doesn’t mean that we can’t hope for a future where our government values taking care of their people, helping them with debt and making education affordable for the United States as a whole.” 

The student loan crisis is not just an economic issue; it’s a social one affecting individuals and families across generations. 

Students taking out loans are particularly vulnerable to the far-reaching impacts of the student loan crisis. As they strive to attain higher education and prepare for their future careers, they find themselves burdened with the weight of mounting debt.  

Lorena Loera, an electromechanical systems engineering student, shared her experience on taking out a student loan. 

“I knew I was going to have to take out a loan, so I didn’t apply to any UC’s or any private’s because they were going to be way too expensive, so I only applied to Cal States,” Loera said. 

Mindful of the financial considerations, she strategically chose not to pursue applications to UCs or private institutions due to their substantial costs. Instead, she directed her focus toward California State institutions, recognizing them as a more financially viable option for her academic pursuits. 

Mario Guerrero, the department chair and professor of political science, provided insight on the expected impact of the plan on student loan borrowers, especially those with significant debt burdens. 

“Biden’s plan to give debt relief to students is a political strategy for the next upcoming election and getting it passed would have a positive impact on student loan borrowers, as well as for the Biden administration,” Guerrero said. “Students don’t want to take out loans; they want to go to affordable colleges.” 

Guerrero’s statement underscores a critical aspect of the student loan crisis; it’s not merely about addressing the consequences of student loan debt but also about preventing the need for excessive borrowing in the first place. Affordable higher education is the key to reducing the reliance on loans, and Biden’s plan aims to create a pathway toward this fundamental goal. 

While the extended timeline and complexities of the Higher Education Act approach may pose challenges, it is a testament to the administration’s commitment to addressing the student loan crisis. As students, educators and policymakers continue to engage in this critical dialogue, the hope for a more equitable and accessible higher education system remains in the foreseeable future. 

The press release states that the Biden-Harris Administration remains steadfast in their commitment to use all available tools to deliver students, borrowers and their families debt relief, under applicable law. The Administration has approved debt relief for more than 3.4 million people and over $116 billion in loan discharges. 


Feature image courtesy of Eric Haynes 

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