Biden offers ‘better support’ for student loan borrowers without debt forgiveness

  • Biden’s budget proposal included $2.7 billion to “provide better support for student borrowers.”
  • He offered to improve the earnings-contingent repayment plan and the civil service discount program.
  • Student loan forgiveness has not been addressed and payments are expected to resume on May 1.

President Joe Biden offered aid for student borrowers in his budget, but the debt cancellation that many had hoped for didn’t pan out.

On Monday, Biden unveiled his $5.8 trillion budget request, which included proposals to tax billionaires, defund police and invest in tackling the climate crisis. Education also received an $88.3 billion funding request – an increase of $15.3 billion from 2021 – with a significant portion of that funding recommended for K-12 education. year.

On higher education, Biden has proposed a “historic” doubling of the maximum Pell Grant, increasing funding for historically black colleges and universities and minority-serving institutions by $752 million, and giving the office $2.7 billion in federal student aid funding to “provide better support for student borrowers.”

“Across the country, we need to focus our efforts on recovery. That means making sure all students — especially those in underserved communities and hardest hit by the pandemic — receive the resources they need to recover. flourish,” Education Secretary Miguel Cardona said in a statement. “Importantly, this budget also invests in access to affordable higher education and in creating stronger pathways that meet the demands of our workforce and connect students to well-paying jobs and careers. fulfilling careers.

Here are the three ways the ministry is proposing to help student borrowers:

  1. Improve customer support for student loan companies.
  2. Ensure that borrowers who must change student loan companies due to service shutdowns have a “successful transition” and “more stable long-term” contracts.
  3. And work with Congress on changes to the Higher Education Act that ease the burden of student debt, including through improvements to the income-contingent repayment and public service loan forgiveness programs.”

Flaws in student loan company contracts and customer support are undoubtedly issues that many borrowers have struggled with. Some reported wait times of several hours for help with student debt. But the broad student loan forgiveness that Biden campaigned on remains unfulfilled, even as lawmakers and advocates say debt forgiveness is the best way to get immediate relief for federal borrowers.

While Biden has extended the pause on student loan payments three times, as well as debt forgiveness for targeted groups of borrowers, payments are expected to resume on May 1. The president is under increasing pressure to extend this break for a fourth time or cancel student debt. Senate Education Committee Chair Patty Murray, for example, has proposed extending the hiatus until 2023 to give Biden time to “permanently fix” the student loan industry, including student loan programs. forgiveness of broken loan.

“Anything we ask can be done at the administrative level,” Murray told reporters last week. “It’s the fastest way to get things done. And we encourage them, ask them, beg them to please do it.”

Granted, the proposals included in Biden’s budget must be approved by Congress to pass, so the higher education proposals are not set in stone. But they reflect the priorities of the administration. It’s the second year the budget has missed broad student loan relief, suggesting the White House may stick to its message that it’s up to Congress to pass a bill to undo student debt.

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