Biden cancels $7.7bn more in student debt for 160,000 borrowers

The move brings the total number of students benefitting from the president’s debt relief push to 4.75 million.

US President Joe Biden is keen to shore up waning support among young people ahead of the November presidential election [Al Jazeera]

United States President Joe Biden has announced his administration is cancelling a total of $7.7bn in student debt for another 160,000 borrowers.

The latest action on Wednesday brings the total number of people to benefit from the president’s debt relief push to 4.75 million, according to the US Department of Education.

Biden, keen to shore up waning support among young people ahead of the November presidential election, had pledged last year to find other avenues for tackling debt relief after the Supreme Court in June blocked his broader plan to cancel $430bn in student loan debt.

The president said beneficiaries of the newest measures include people in three categories who meet certain milestones that make them eligible for cancellation, including 54,000 borrowers enrolled in Biden’s Saving on a Valuable Education (SAVE) repayment plan, 39,000 enrolled in earlier income-driven plans and about 67,000 people who are eligible through the Public Service Loan Forgiveness programme.

“Today’s announcement comes on top of the significant progress we’ve made for students and borrowers over the past three years,” Biden said in a statement. “I will never stop working to cancel student debt – no matter how many times Republican elected officials try to stop us.”

The statement added that each of the borrowers had an average of $35,000 of debt written off.

Wednesday’s announcement brings total debt relief approved by the Biden administration to $167bn.

The issue remains high on the agenda of younger voters, many of whom have concerns about Biden’s foreign policy on Israel’s war in Gaza and fault him for not achieving greater debt forgiveness.

The campaign of former President Donald Trump, Biden’s Republican challenger in the White House race, criticised in March the student loan cancellation as a bailout that was done “without a single act of Congress”.

Republicans have called Biden’s student loan forgiveness approach an overreach of his authority and an unfair benefit to college-educated borrowers while other borrowers received no such relief.

As of the end of 2023, 43.2 million US student loan recipients had over $1.6 trillion in outstanding loans, according to the website of Federal Student Aid (FSA), an office of the US Department of Education.

Higher education debt has tripled since the 2008 financial crisis.

Source: News Agencies