White House projects 40 million Americans will benefit from student debt relief

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Student debt forgiveness would provide relief to borrowers in all 50 states, the administration says.

According to an analysis prepared by the Department of Education and released by the White House on Sept. 20, more than 40 million borrowers in all 50 states would benefit from President Joe Biden's proposal for student loan debt relief.

The department's data shows that nearly 20 million people would see their entire student loan balance reduced to zero.

The plan, which Biden announced on Aug. 24, would award $10,000 in loan forgiveness to borrowers who earn less than $125,000 and up to $10,000 in additional loan cancellation for those who have received Pell Grants, which are awarded to those with the greatest financial need.

The administration also said that the pause on student loan repayment that was enacted in response to the COVID-19 pandemic would be extended one final time, until January 2023.

"Nearly 90% of relief dollars will go to those earning less than $75,000 per year – and no relief will go to any individual or household in the top 5% of incomes in the United States," the White House said in its statement.

The administration added: "By targeting relief to borrowers with the highest economic need, the Administration's actions are also likely to help narrow the racial wealth gap. Nearly 71% of Black undergraduate borrowers are Pell Grant recipients, and 65% of Latino undergraduate borrowers are Pell Grant recipients."

Biden's plan was praised by educators and by civil rights groups, including the NAACP, National Urban League, and UnidosUS.

Residents in all 50 states, Washington, D.C., Puerto Rico and other U.S. territories would benefit from the policy, along with Americans living on military bases and abroad. This would include 3.2 million people in Texas, 2.4 million in Florida, 1.5 million in Georgia, and 1.6 million in Ohio.

Republicans have voiced opposition to the relief plan.

The policy has been condemned by Republicans in Congress. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell called it "student loan socialism." Sens. Rick Scott (FL), Mitt Romney (UT), Ron Johnson (WI), Tom Cotton (AR) and Marsha Blackburn (TN) were also among those criticizing the plan.

Biden noted in his announcement of the policy that many of the same Republicans who have spoken out against relief voted for the massive tax cuts for the wealthy enacted under former President Donald Trump.

Republican attorneys general and conservative groups are reportedly working on legal strategies to challenge the Biden relief plan in federal court.

The tactic is similar to the strategy employed after congressional Democrats and former President Barack Obama enacted the Affordable Care Act in 2010. That law was the subject of multiple federal lawsuits, resulting in three Supreme Court decisions that kept the law intact.

Republicans also made multiple attempts to undo the health care law via legislation, threatening the health insurance coverage of millions of Americans. Those efforts were unsuccessful.

National polling has shown widespread support for Biden's debt relief plan.

A survey conducted Aug. 26-31 by Navigator Research found that 60% of registered voters back the plan. Those in favor include 84% of Democrats, 57% of independents, and 32% of Republicans. The survey also showed that 89% of Black respondents back the plan, along with 72% of Latinos and 69% of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.