KEY POINTS

  • President Biden floated plans of canceling $50,000 in student debt loan
  • Progressive Democrats and advocates have previously urged Biden to consider canceling up to $50,000 in debt
  • Canceling it would forgive the debt of millions of student loan borrowers

President Joe Biden recently floated plans of canceling up to $50,000 in student debt per borrower, a top White House official said Thursday. 

White House chief of staff Ron Klain was appearing in an interview with Politico when he revealed that Biden had requested that Education Secretary Miguel Cordona determine whether he had the legal authority to cancel student debt. 

“He asked his secretary of Education, who’s just been on the job a few weeks, once he got on the job to have his department prepare a memo on the president’s legal authority, and hopefully we’ll see that in the next few weeks,” Klain told Politico. “And then he’ll look at that legal authority, he’ll look at the policy issues around that, and he’ll make a decision.”

“He hasn’t made a decision on that either way,” the White House chief of staff added. “In fact, he hasn’t yet gotten the memos that he needs to start to focus on that decision.”

During his presidential campaign in 2020, Biden said he supported canceling $10,000 in student debt per person. However, he has faced pressure from Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) and other Democrats to consider a higher amount. 

“To minimize the harm to the next generation and help narrow the racial and gender wealth gaps, bold and immediate action is needed to protect student loan borrowers,” more than 230 organizations, including Americans for Financial Reform, wrote in a November 2020 letter

In February, Warren, Schumer and Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley (D-Mass.) led colleagues in reintroducing a resolution outlining plans for the president to tackle the student loan debt crisis by allowing federal loan borrowers to get up to $50,000 canceled.

That month, White House press secretary Jen Psaki suggested that the administration hasn’t ruled out the possibility of canceling student loans by bypassing Congress. She revealed that Biden was considering asking the Justice Department to review whether he had the authority to get up to $50,000 canceled.

If Biden cancels that amount for all borrowers, the country’s outstanding balance would fall to around $700 billion from $1.7 trillion. It would also forgive debt for at least 36 million federal student loan borrowers. 

US President Joe Biden will make a key speech on his infrastructure plan in Pittsburgh US President Joe Biden will make a key speech on his infrastructure plan in Pittsburgh Photo: AFP / Brendan Smialowski