WASHINGTON – As pressure grows from progressives to offer relief for student loan borrowers, President Joe Biden said Thursday he is considering using executive authority in the coming weeks to cancel student loan debt — but less than $50,000.
“I am considering dealing with some debt reduction,” Biden said to a question from USA TODAY. “I’m in the process of taking a hard look at whether or not … there will be an additional debt of forgiveness and I’ll have an answer on that in the next couple of weeks.”
Biden did not answer when asked what amount he’s looking at canceling.
Biden is facing mounting pressure to offer widespread debt relief to student loan borrowers as the administration continues to pause student loan payments.
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Since March 2020, the federal government has frozen the requirement that the nation’s 41 million borrowers pay back their federal student loans. Biden extended the moratorium until August 31 after it was going to expire in May.
Biden earlier this week indicated to a group of lawmakers that he was looking to forgive some debt for student loan borrowers, Rep. Tony Cardenas, D-Calif., said this week.
Biden met with leaders of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus on Monday, where the topic of student loans was discussed.
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Cardenas said during an interview on MSNBC on Wednesday that he asked the president to “consider forgoing at least $10,000 in or more debt to every American who has student loan debt.”
“He said, once again, we’re going to be very pleased with that. He’s working on that already,” Cardenas said. “We’d love to see him eliminate student debt across the board, but anything in that direction is going to be a positive effort and we look forward to the President doing some encouragement.”
On the campaign trail, Biden promised to cancel at least $10,000 of each American’s student debt.
Biden on Thursday said that he is not considering a $50,000 debt reduction — a number that some lawmakers said the president has the authority to forgive.
Wisdom Cole, national director of the NAACP Youth & College Division, slammed Biden’s comments Thursday, saying that canceling at least $50,000 is a student loan debt is the “bottom line.”
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“President Biden, we agree that we shouldn’t cancel $50,000 in student loan debt. We should cancel all of it,” Cole said in a statement. “$50,000 was just the bottom line. For the Black community, who’ve accumulated debt over generations, anything less is unacceptable.”
Biden’s comments came the same day his administration announced that it was offering targeted debt relief to past students of a beauty school as part of its borrower defense program.
Students who attended Marinello Schools of Beauty from 2009 through its 2016 closure qualify for relief. The forgiveness initiative erases the debt of students who can prove they were defrauded by their schools.
The administration has canceled roughly $18.5 billion in student loan debt since Biden took office. And about $2.1 billion of that sum benefitted roughly 132,000 people in the borrower defense program.
Contributing: Chris Quintana
Reach Rebecca Morin at Twitter @RebeccaMorin_
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Biden to consider new student debt forgiveness in coming weeks