WASHINGTON (The Hill) — President Joe Biden plans to move forward with student loan debt forgiveness, with two sources telling The Hill he is considering action to expunge at least $10,000 per borrower. The debt forgiveness would be through executive action and follows the president asking the Education Department to look into his authority to act unilaterally on student loans a year ago, the results of which have not been publicly announced.
Bloomberg first reported that Biden is weighing forgiving at least $10,000 in student loans per borrower, citing people familiar with the matter. “But the door has been open to possibly larger,” a source told The Hill. “Lots of options on the table. They are doing a lot of listening right now.” The source added that there’s been no timeline set yet on when the president will act.
The president in the 2020 campaign supported forgiving at least $10,000 in federal student loans per person, while others in his party, including Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.), have pressed for $50,000 per borrower or to cancel debt entirely.
Biden earlier this week said he is “taking a hard look” at forgiving some student debt, adding that he is not considering the $50,000 debt reduction. Press secretary Jen Psaki also said this week that the White House is still reviewing whether Biden can unilaterally forgive student loan debt.
Majority Whip James Clyburn (D-S.C.) told The Hill in an interview on Friday that he would support Biden’s $10,000 figure as an initial move. “I would see that as a good first step,” Clyburn said. “Whatever he feels comfortable doing, fine. And I’m going to do whatever I feel comfortable doing.”
The congressman, whose endorsement helped secure the Democratic nomination for Biden in 2020, has been an influential and important confidant in the president’s inner circle. He is pushing for a legislative path for up to $50,000 in student debt forgiveness with prominent progressives in the House and Senate, including Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.). “I’m not going to be comfortable with only at $10,000,” he said.
Earlier this month, the Biden administration extended the pandemic moratorium on federal student loan payments and interest accrual through August. Loan payments were first paused in March 2020, early in the coronavirus pandemic, under then-President Trump, and the moratorium has been extended multiple times since.
Biden has been under pressure to go farther than the moratorium and forgive debt. The White House has also consistently said the president would sign legislation canceling student debt if Congress passed a bill.