For months, Washington lawmakers like Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY), Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), and Sen. Raphael Warnock (D-GA) have aggressively pressed President Joe Biden to sign off on forgiving $50,000 of student loan debt per borrower.
The president, however, has indicated that he likely won’t go higher than his campaign promise of $10,000 per borrower—and now, there’s even a possibility that individuals making more than $125,000 a year would be ineligible for any relief.
Due to this stance, Biden now appears to be the target of a growing chorus of anger among those who feel that $10,000, along with income thresholds, just won’t be enough to make a meaningful dent in the country’s ever-growing $1.7 trillion outstanding student loan balance.
“It’s an absolute insult,” Thomas Gokey, co-founder of the Debt Collective, a national union of debtors, told CNBC. “This is less than what he promised on the campaign.”
The business news outlet also reported that Derrick Johnson, president of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), contended that $10,000 “won’t do anything” for the Black community.
“The average Black borrower has $53,000 in student loan debt four years after graduation, nearly twice the amount as their white counterparts,” he said in a statement. “Ten thousand dollars in cancellation would be a slap in the face. President Biden, it’s not about whether you can do it; it’s about whether or not you have the will to do it.
According to the Washington Post, citing three people familiar with the discussions, Biden had hoped to make the student loan forgiveness announcement as soon as last weekend, but the mass shooting at an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas, forced the administration to change the timing.
Meanwhile, there is plenty of pushback on the other side of the aisle. For example, Sen. Mitt Romney (R-UT) and several of his colleagues have introduced the Student Loan Accountability Act, which aims to prohibit the Biden administration from broadly canceling student loan debt going forward.
“It makes no sense for the Biden Administration to cancel nearly $2 trillion in student loan debt,” Romney said in a release. “This decision would not only be unfair to those who already repaid their loans or decided to pursue alternative education paths, but it would be wildly inflationary at a time of already historic inflation.”
Since taking office, Biden has taken several notable actions to provide student loan relief. He has repeatedly extended the moratorium on federal student loan repayments and has already canceled more than $17 billion in student loan debt for about 725,000 borrowers.
Ethen Kim Lieser is a Washington state-based Finance and Tech Editor who has held posts at Google, The Korea Herald, Lincoln Journal Star, AsianWeek, and Arirang TV. Follow or contact him on LinkedIn.