Joe Biden Talks A Good Game On Cancelling Student Debt. His Critics Say He Hasn’t Done Enough.

President Joe Biden removes his mask to speak from the Treaty Room in the White House on Wednesday, April 14, 2021, about the withdrawal of the remainder of U.S. troops from Afghanistan. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik, Pool)

President Joe Biden, whose professed dedication to solving the student-debt problem was key in his campaign, has moved to do so via the Department of Education but it’s a small first step.

The early efforts have cleared billions of dollars in debt in just a few months but Biden hasn’t yet taken on his targeted canceling of $10,000 in student debt per person.

Biden’s education secretary, Miguel Cardona, canceled debt for about 72,000 borrowers defrauded by for-profit schools — about $1 billion worth — and sought to improve how defrauded students seek help.

Business Insider reports these numbers, based on Cardona’s action waiving paperwork for borrowers with disabilities:

  • Of those 230,000, debt was canceled for 41,000, providing $1.3 billion in student-loan relief.
  • The $2.3 billion in cumulative relief over three months is only 0.2% of the outstanding student loans.

Experts say the student-debt crisis in still a major concern. With close to 45 million Americans who carry student-loan debt, the initial Biden foray is seen as not nearly enough. 

Alan Collinge, the founder of Student Loan Justice, told Insider that canceling debt for only defrauded borrowers and borrowers with disabilities is “massively unimpressive.”

“We’re in a pandemic, and we’ve lost tens of millions of jobs,” Collinge said. “The people who are hurt the worst tend to be the people who have student-loan debt.”

Democratic lawmakers have pressured Biden to cancel up to $50,000 in student debt per person. 

Biden’s chief of staff, Ron Klain, told Politico earlier this month that the White House was “looking into” its legal authority to cancel $50,000 per person. The Education Department released data showing that amount would erase 84% of the federal student-debt pile.

Insider polling from February found a quarter of the respondents said forget about $10,000 or even $50,000 — they supported forgiving all student loans.

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