Borrowers who started repaying their undergraduate loans at least 20 years ago and still have a balance will see their remaining debt discharged under an updated proposal for one-time student loan forgiveness released Monday. All other borrowers, including those with graduate school loans, would be eligible for forgiveness on debt that entered repayment at least 25 years ago.
Education Department officials will meet with a negotiating committee next week for a final round of discussions about how to provide relief and to which borrowers. The two daylong sessions next week will cap months of work that began in June when the Supreme Court struck down President Biden’s first attempt to provide broad-based student loan forgiveness.
Unlike that plan, the Biden administration is now looking to provide relief to discrete groups of borrowers who meet certain eligibility criteria, such as how much time they’ve spent in repayment and whether they qualified but didn’t apply for relief under other programs.
The updated proposals build off the committee’s discussions at last month’s meeting. In response, the department is now planning to waive up to $20,000 for borrowers who owe more than they initially borrowed, who are enrolled in an income-driven repayment plan and whose income is below 225 percent of the federal poverty guidelines. Borrowers who are enrolled in the department’s new repayment plan, known as SAVE, and who earn less than $125,000 also will qualify for $20,000 in relief.
Other borrowers who aren’t signed up for an income-driven repayment plan and who owe more than they initially borrowed would get up to $10,000 waived. Borrowers in this group whose income falls below 225 percent of the federal poverty guidelines would be eligible for another $10,000 in relief.
The negotiating committee will meet Dec. 11 and 12 to review the proposals. The department will incorporate any regulatory text on which the committee reaches consensus in a draft rule, which should be released next year.
“Student loans are supposed to be a bridge to a better life, not a life sentence of endless debt,” Education Secretary Miguel Cardona said in a statement. “This rulemaking process is about standing up for borrowers who’ve been failed by the country’s broken student loan system and creating new regulations that will reduce the burden of student debt in this country.”