Where student-loan forgiveness now stands for millions of borrowers one year after Biden announced his broad debt relief plan

They have yet to receive relief, but the news they received today would wipe out $20,000 of their student loan balance — some borrowers of student loans had been waiting for decades. Millions of borrowers received this news one year ago.

The occurrence of COVID-19 served as the emergency in this particular scenario, enabling the education secretary to exempt or adjust student-loan amounts pertaining to a nationwide emergency, utilizing the HEROES Act of 2003. On August 24, 2022, his administration determined that he possessed the power to eliminate student debt for federal borrowers, and even President Biden himself expressed doubts about his authority to implement extensive debt relief. Since assuming office, his administration has been considering various approaches to provide assistance to borrowers. President Joe Biden’s announcement had been anticipated for quite some time.

The Biden-Harris administration has been working tirelessly since Day One to fix the broken federal student aid programs and deliver unprecedented relief to borrowers. That’s why Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona said in a statement, “For too many people, student loan debt has hindered their ability to achieve their dreams, including starting a business, buying a home, or providing for their family. It’s time to set us free and ensure that education is accessible to all.”

After the announcement of debt relief, approximately 16 million federal borrowers applied for up to $20,000 reduction in their balances. The Education Department approved the applications of 26 million borrowers within weeks. To apply, borrowers only had to fill out a quick form that took about five minutes and included their names, contact information, and Social Security number.

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However, in November, momentum came to a halt when lawsuits backed by conservative groups successfully blocked the implementation of the relief. Eventually, the Supreme Court went to oral arguments in June, ruling that one of the cases had merit. Ultimately, the court struck down the debt relief and celebrated Republican lawmakers and some conservative groups were defeated in their decision to halt the cases.

It’s hard to be excited anymore. It’s really frustrating, and it’s been a roller coaster. It went all the way to the Supreme Court and was deemed ineligible. One borrower previously told Insider exactly what happened. I had some apprehension about Biden’s first relief plan.

Even with the Supreme Court’s ruling, the Biden administration has started implementing other reforms for borrowers, using a new and broad process for student-loan forgiveness, where relief stands currently in a different law.

President Joe Biden delivers remarks on the Supreme Court’s decision on the Administration’s student debt relief program in the Roosevelt Room of the White House on Friday, June 30, 2023.

The Education Department declared its intention to make another attempt utilizing the Higher Education Act of 1965, which does not necessitate the dependence on a national crisis, on the very day the Supreme Court invalidated Biden’s debt forgiveness. Nevertheless, the administration must follow the negotiated rulemaking procedure, which mandates intervals of public input, public hearings, and numerous rounds of discussions with interested parties in order to formalize a rule on debt relief, as stipulated by the law.

Officials have said that they will work to move this process as quickly as possible under the law, while borrowers might see relief when a specific timeline has not been provided by the administration and at least a year has passed.

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During that procedure, we will provide you with additional information as we reach every significant stage. Consequently, our objective is to accomplish it with utmost promptness. However, it usually requires several months, even adhering to the standard procedure for rulemaking, as I previously mentioned. “It will take months,” stated Bharat Ramamurti, deputy director of the National Economic Council, during a press briefing in July.

Borrowers who are recommended by the department and are able to make payments should be aware that interest will still accrue during the period in which they make payments. However, credit agencies will not report missed payments during this time. Borrowers who miss payments during this period will still accrue interest, but it will not be reported to credit agencies. The Department of Education announced a 12-month “on-ramp” period starting in October to ease the transition back into repayment. Beginning in September, interest will begin to accrue again with the arrival of the next due date, but the pause on student loan payments will end after three years without a reduction in their balances. This means that borrowers will need to resume making payments.

The department has announced that it has approved $39 billion in relief for borrowers, and it allows the adjustment of income-driven repayment plans to determine which borrowers have completed the required 25 or 20 years of payments. Thousands of borrowers have started seeing their loans forgiven through a one-time adjustment account. Separately.

This is a massive step in the right direction, but the fight to cancel student debt is far from over. The administration has carefully crossed all the legal t’s and dotted all the legal i’s, and Senator Schumer said in a statement that there will be those who will challenge this in court. The department has formally launched its new income-driven repayment plan, called SAVE, which is intended to prevent unpaid interest from building up and make monthly payments cheaper.

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