By Andrea Shalal
(Reuters) -U.S. President Joe Biden on Friday announced student debt cancellation of nearly $5 billion for an additional 74,000 borrowers, including more than half who earned forgiveness after 10 years of public service as teachers, nurses and firefighters.
The White House announcement brings the total loan forgiveness approved by the Biden-Harris administration to $136.6 billion for more than 3.7 million Americans.
Nearly 44,000 of the borrowers approved for relief are those with a decade of public service, with close to 30,000 are people who have been repaying their loans for at least 20 years but never got the relief through income-driven repayment plans.
Biden vowed to continue working to deliver student debt relief to as many borrowers as possible in the wake of the Supreme Court’s June 30 ruling blocking his plan to cancel hundreds of billions of dollars in debt.
“I won’t back down from using every tool at our disposal to get student loan borrowers the relief they need to reach their dreams,” he said in a statement.
Education Secretary Miguel Cardona said the department was moving “full speed ahead” with efforts to deliver even greater debt relief for more borrowers and to help them get on a faster track to loan forgiveness under a new SAVE repayment plan.
As of June 2023, approximately 43.4 million student loan recipients had $1.63 trillion in outstanding loans, according to the Federal Student Aid website. The figure represents an increase of nearly $17 billion in the outstanding loan balance and almost 600,000 in the number of student loan recipients since last year, it said.
Progressive voters, who are part of the coalition that helped elect Biden in 2020, long pressed the White House to address student loan debt, and the issue remains high on the agenda of younger voters, many of whom have concerns about Biden’s foreign policy on the war in Gaza and fault him for not achieving greater debt forgiveness.
(Reporting by Anirudh Saligrama in Bengaluru; editing by Christina Fincher and Aurora Ellis)