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Op-Ed: Relieving the Burden of Student Loan Debt

In 2021, the U.S. Department of Education announced it was discharging $6 billion in loans to settle a class action lawsuit filed against the agency for its handling of the Borrower Defense Repayment program under the Trump Administration. This program provides debt relief for borrowers defrauded by for-profit institutions like the now defunct Trump University. The Biden Administration’s new rules make it easier for those harmed by predatory marketing and recruiting practices to receive debt relief. As a result, the agency received 60,000 applications in just one week after the announcement compared to only 100,000 applications in all of 2021.
Finally, President Biden made some temporary changes for applicants to the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program because in 2017, the first year that borrowers could apply for forgiveness only 1 percent were approved. On October 6, 2021, Biden’s Department of Education announced modifications to the program and a time-limited waiver so that more students could be eligible and more realistic repayment plans could be implemented. This includes loan types and payment plans that were not previously eligible.
As a result, over 175,000 borrowers have received over $10 billion in forgiveness due to their work in the public sector in professions including teachers, nurses, social workers, service members in our military, and first responders. The deadline to apply under the
time-limited waiver is October 31, 2022, so if you believe you are eligible, I encourage you to visit https://studentaid.gov/ and search for the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program.
These actions by President Biden will help narrow the racial wealth gap. Over 50% of Black borrowers report their net worth is less than they owe in student loan debt. Also, Black students are more likely to borrow, and borrow larger amounts, relative to other racial or ethnic subgroups. Black college graduates owe an average $25,000 more in student loan debt than white college graduates. Four years after graduation, 48% of Black borrowers owe an average of 12.5% more than they borrowed.
By providing relief from this disproportionate and crushing debt, we are giving the next generation the opportunity to pursue the American dream and provide a life for themselves and their families that they have earned through hard work and the pursuit of a higher education.
We have all heard the saying that a rising tide lifts all boats. I believe that these efforts by the Biden Administration not only help to lift boats, they also put wind in their sails to help move us closer to the promise of “a more perfect Union.”

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