The Biden administration quietly announced on Thursday that it will be changing the rules for who qualifies for student loan forgiveness, leaving around four million borrowers unqualified for the program.

The reversal now means that individuals with federal student loans under the Federal Family Education Loan program and the Federal Perkins Loan program will no longer be eligible to receive one-time debt forgiveness. Previously, these borrowers had been allowed to consolidate their debt with the federal Direct loan program. Those who consolidated their loans before September 29 will still be able to obtain debt cancellation from the government.

The reason for the change remains unclear.

“Our goal is to provide relief to as many eligible borrowers as quickly and easily as possible, and this will allow us to achieve that goal while we continue to explore additional legally-available options to provide relief to borrowers with privately owned FFEL loans and Perkins loans, including whether FFEL borrowers could receive one-time debt relief without needing to consolidate,” read a media statement from a Department of Education spokesperson. “Borrowers with privately held federal student loans who applied to consolidate their loans into Direct Loans before September 29, 2022, will obtain one-time debt relief. The FFEL program is now defunct and only a small percentage of borrowers have FFEL loans.”

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President Joe Biden announced his administration’s plan to keep one of his campaign promises to forgive up to $10,000 in student debt for those who make under $125,000 per year back in August. In addition, Pell Grant recipients will be able to obtain $10,000 more in debt relief. Biden’s plan is expected to affect around 40 million Americans.

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