Millions of student loan borrowers have inched closer to full debt forgiveness after the Education Department initiated a number of fixes for multiple student loan programs.
Per CBS News, the changes will be occurring in the Public Service Loan Forgiveness programs and the Income-Driven Repayment plans—and the fixes will give roughly 40,000 borrowers immediate forgiveness and bring more than 3.5 million borrowers closer to relief by at least three years via income-driven repayments.
Furthermore, borrowers enrolled in income-driven repayments are eligible to have their remaining loans wiped clean if they make the required amount of payments for either twenty or twenty-five years.
“Student loans were never meant to be a life sentence, but it's certainly felt that way for borrowers locked out of debt relief they're eligible for,” Education Secretary Miguel Cardona said in a statement.
“These actions once again demonstrate the Biden-Harris administration’s commitment to delivering meaningful debt relief and ensuring federal student loan programs are administered fairly and effectively,” he continued.
According to CNBC, outstanding student loan debt has now surpassed $1.7 trillion, which has become an even bigger financial burden on Americans than credit card or auto loan debt.
“We wanted to act as quickly as possible to address these problems, but expect these figures to only grow as we continue to implement and analyze the situation,” James Kvaal, the undersecretary of the Education Department, told reporters on Tuesday.
The Education Department’s efforts come as the Biden administration has already canceled more than $17 billion in student loan debt for about 725,000 borrowers.
The administration, though, is still under heavy pressure to fully forgive all student loan debt. According to a recent poll conducted by the Student Borrower Protection Center and Data for Progress, it found that nearly 66 percent of likely voters are in support of the president forgiving student loan debt, with more than 70 percent of Latino and Black voters in favor.
Biden, however, hasn’t committed to going higher than $10,000 per borrower and continues to resist pressure to cancel debt on his own via an executive order.
Earlier this month, the Biden administration announced yet another extension—through August 31—of the payment pause on federal student loans. The freeze on the repayments, which has been in place since the start of the pandemic, had been slated to expire on May 1.
It was also the sixth extension of the repayment pause that has altogether saved nearly $200 billion for student loan borrowers, according to the Federal Reserve.
“That additional time will assist borrowers in achieving greater financial security and support the Department of Education’s efforts to continue improving student loan programs,” Biden said in a White House-released statement.
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.