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Dozens of Democrats press Biden on student loan relief

Dozens of Democrats sent a letter to President Biden on Wednesday urging him to deliver on his promise for student debt relief. 

The letter comes days before interest will begin to accrue on student loans for the first time in more than three years. 

“We are extremely disappointed and concerned that the Supreme Court substituted politics for the rule of law to deny as many as 43 million hard working Americans life-changing relief from crushing student loan debt,” said the letter, signed by top Democrats including Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (N.Y.) and Sen. Elizabeth Warren (Mass.).

“In the wake of this outrageous decision, we appreciate your announcement initiating a rulemaking under the Higher Education Act of 1965 to deliver on debt relief and write to urge you to swiftly carry out your commitment to working and middle class families, and cancel student debt by early 2024,” it added. 

Biden’s initial plan to get at least $10,000 to all student loan borrowers was shut down by the high court earlier this summer. 

Since then, the administration has started the negotiated rulemaking process toward the next form of student loan forgiveness. The administration believes this avenue will prove legally sound, but will take much longer to implement — and no details are known about how much relief will come from it or who will receive it. 

In the meantime, Biden has provided an “on-ramp” to begin repayments. Student loan repayments will turn back on in October, but borrowers will not be financially penalized, besides interest accruing, if they miss payments for up to a year. 

“While we understand your administration’s efforts in providing a 12-month ‘on-ramp’ starting on October 1, 2023 to protect borrowers during the transition to repayment, we remain gravely concerned about the Department of Education’s projections that without additional relief, student debt delinquencies and defaults will spike once repayment resumes,” the letter states.

“The Department of Education should work to ensure that implementation of the final rule to provide debt relief does not happen after the 12-month on ramp ends in effort to further reduce the risk of delinquency and default,” the Democrats added. 

Biden has long taken heat from Democrats and advocates for his more centrist position on the issue. While he said on the campaign trail he was only willing to forgive up to $10,000 in student loans, Warren and Schumer previously called for him to forgive up to $50,000.

Biden has used other avenues to forgive student loans for various groups such as those defrauded by their institutions, or adjusting the calculations on income-driven repayments to provide relief to those who have been paying student loans for more than 20 years. 

“Since the beginning of your administration, you’ve demonstrated this commitment through the $116.6 billion in student loans you have forgiven for more than 3.4 million borrowers. Although the Supreme Court has chosen to stand in the way of your initial student debt relief plan, we recognize that as President of the United States, you have additional tools to provide relief,” the letter reads. 

If Biden does not pass relief within the next year, loan payments and the financial consequences for missing them will be in full swing right before the 2024 election.

Source: The Hill

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