Biden Studies Whether He Can Cancel Student Loan Debt
President Joe Biden has asked Education Secretary Miguel Cardona to review his executive authority to cancel student loan debt. Cardona’s office will prepare a memo for Biden within the coming weeks.
“He’ll look at that legal authority, he’ll look at the policy issues around that, and then he’ll make a decision,” White House Chief of Staff Ron Klain told Politico. “He hasn’t made a decision on that either way. In fact, he hasn’t yet gotten the memos that he needs to start to focus on that decision.”
This news comes amid growing pressure from other Democrats, such as Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) and Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), to cancel up to $50,000 in student debt through executive action.
Though Biden has affirmed his commitment to wiping out $10,000 in student debt, he claims that he does not think he has the authority to cancel up to $50,000 without congressional action.
“I understand the impact of debt, and it can be debilitating,” Biden said previously. “I am prepared to write off the $10,000 debt, but not 50 [thousand], because I don’t think I have the authority to do it.”
Over 40 million Americans have student loan debt – amounting to over $1.7 trillion in student loans. Additionally, students of color are disproportionately affected by the student loan crisis in this country.
Despite Biden’s reservations, he may actually have the authority to cancel student debt through the Higher Education Act of 1965, an act that Biden himself has invoked during his time in office, namely when he called for a pause on student loan payments during the coronavirus pandemic.
White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki has stated that while Biden awaits the go-ahead for potential executive action, he would be “eager” to sign a bill that covers $10,000 in student loan debt.