Biden announces additional student loan debt relief

October 4, 2023

President Biden on Wednesday highlighted White House efforts to deliver debt relief to student loan borrowers in the U.S., including an additional $9 billion in relief to 125,000 Americans.

“While a college degree is still a ticket to a better life, that ticket has become excessively expensive,” Biden noted during a speech from the White House.

In June, the Supreme Court had ruled 6-3 to strike down Biden’s student loan forgiveness program. In an opinion written by Chief Justice John Roberts, the Court rejected the Administration’s assertion that the 2003 HEROES Act allowed the Education Secretary to grant relief in times of national emergency—such as the Covid-19 pandemic.

Hours after that ruling, Biden had announced new actions that he said would be consistent with the Court’s ruling. Among them was the creation of what he called the 12-month “On-Ramp Repayment Program,” in which the Department of Education would not refer borrowers who missed payments to credit agencies for 12 months to give them a chance to get back up and running. 

Wednesday’s announcement brings the total approved debt cancellation by the Biden Administration to $127 billion for nearly 3.6 Americans, according to Biden.

“This kind of relief is life-changing for individuals and their families, but it’s good for our economy as a whole as well,” Biden said. “By freeing millions of Americans from the crushing burden of student debt, it means they can go and get their lives in order. They can think about buying a house, they can start a business, they can be starting a family. This matters.”

The President’s speech came less than 24-hours after the House of Representatives voted to oust Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) from the Speaker’s chair, and three days after Congress  passed a 45-day stopgap funding measure to avert a government shutdown—at least until mid-November. 

Before talking about student debt forgiveness, Biden on Wednesday made an appeal to “end the brinksmanship” in Washington. 

“We know what we have to do and we have to get it done in a timely fashion. More than anything we need to change the poisonous atmosphere in Washington….we need to stop seeing each other as enemies.” 

The stopgap did not include Biden’s requested additional funding for Ukraine. In answer to a reporter’s question after his speech, the President said, “We can support Ukraine and the next tranche that we need, and there is another means by which we may be able to find funding for that, but I’m not going to get into that now.”

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