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Biden announces fresh wave of early student debt cancellation for some borrowers

The announcement applies to borrowers enrolled in a new income-driven repayment plan who took out less than $12,000 in loans and have been in repayment for 10 years.
Image: A graduation ceremony at the University of California Los Angeles on June 14, 2019.
A graduation ceremony at UCLA in 2019.Robyn Beck / AFP via Getty Images file

President Joe Biden announced Friday that federal student debt will be wiped out for certain borrowers who took out relatively small loans and have been in repayment for the past decade.

Borrowers who received less than $12,000 in federal loans and have been paying off their balances for at least 10 years "will get their remaining student debt cancelled immediately" in February, Biden said in a statement.

He said that the move comes "nearly six months ahead of schedule" and that it applies to borrowers enrolled in the new income-driven repayment plan known as SAVE, which administration officials touted in recent months as a way to help lower their monthly payments.

While 30 million people are eligible for the SAVE plan, Biden said Friday that 6.9 million are currently enrolled. It was not immediately clear how many borrowers would be affected by the cancellation effort.

"This action will particularly help community college borrowers, low-income borrowers, and those struggling to repay their loans," Biden said in his statement.

Many borrowers began repaying federal student loans in October after a pause of more than three years.

The Supreme Court last year rejected Biden’s pandemic-era debt relief plan, which aimed to erase up to $20,000 in student debt for about 43 million borrowers.

In his statement, Biden highlighted efforts by the administration to "pursue an alternative path" that he said had already canceled student debt for 3.6 million people.

Friday's announcement follows similar actions in recent months to reduce student loan debt.

Shortly after loan repayments restarted in October, Biden approved $9 billion in student loan debt forgiveness for 125,000 people, including 53,000 beneficiaries of the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program.

Later that month, the Education Department released a proposal that it said would target providing debt relief to four categories of borrowers, including those whose outstanding federal student loan balances exceed the amounts they initially borrowed.