Biden presses student debt relief as payments resume after pandemic pause

WASHINGTON – President Joe Biden will announce another wave of federal student loan forgiveness on Wednesday, according to a White House official, as borrowers brace for payments to restart after a three-year pause that began during the COVID-19 pandemic.

His latest step will help 125,000 borrowers by erasing $9 billion in debt through existing relief programs. In total, 3.6 million borrowers will have had $127 billion in debt wiped out since Biden took office.

The official requested anonymity ahead of the announcement, which Biden is scheduled to make at the White House at 1 p.m. ET.

Biden promised to help alleviate the burden of student debt while running for president, and he’s been under pressure to follow through even though his original plan was overturned by the conservative majority on the U.S. Supreme Court.

He’s been relying on a patchwork of different programs to chip away at debt, such as public service loan forgiveness and the SAVE Plan, which lowers payments by tying them to borrowers’ income.

“For years, millions of eligible borrowers were unable to access the student debt relief they qualified for, but that’s all changed thanks to President Biden and this administration’s relentless efforts to fix the broken student loan system,” Education Secretary Miguel Cardona said in a statement.

Republicans have fought Biden’s plans on student debt, but Wednesday’s announcement comes as they’re consumed by infighting on Capitol Hill. Hard-right Republicans forced a vote that ousted Rep. Kevin McCarthy as House speaker, leaving the chamber in chaos.

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