President Joe Biden vowed Friday, June 30, to push ahead with a new plan providing student loan relief for millions of borrowers, while blaming Republican “hypocrisy” for triggering the day’s Supreme Court decision that wiped out his original effort.
Biden said his administration had already begun the process of working under the authority of the Higher Education Act of 1965, which he called “the best path that remains to provide as many borrowers as possible with debt relief.”
In the meantime, since student loan-payment requirements are to resume in the fall, the White House is creating an “on ramp” to repayment and implementing ways to ease borrowers’ threat of default if they fall behind over the next year.
The president said the new programs will take longer than his initial effort would have to ease student loan debt.
“These Republican officials just couldn’t bear the thought of providing relief for working class, middle class Americans,” Biden said. “The hypocrisy of Republican elected officials is stunning.”
“We do not want to go into excruciating debt for our entire lives to enhance our education,” Voters of Tomorrow, a Gen Z-led organization that promotes the power of young Americans, said in a statement.
The White House efforts to forgive loans were an attempt to keep a Biden promise stretching back to his 2020 campaign to wipe out student loan debt — an idea that was especially popular with young voters and progressives. Both will be key for the president in next year’s presidential race but may be less energized about supporting him after the high court’s decision.
Wisdom Cole, the national director of the NAACP Youth & College Division, said Black Americans helped put Biden in the White House, so there’s an obligation for him to “finish the job” with his pledges to provide relief for borrowers.
“It’s going to have a huge impact on the next election,” Cole said, adding, “If we don’t do this, we continue the cycle of seeing our elected leaders make promises and not follow through.”
The White House argues that its new efforts will stand up to future legal challenges, even given the Supreme Court’s 6-3 current conservative majority. However, the administration also insisted its original plan was legal.
The new approach uses a provision allowing Education Secretary Miguel Cardona to “compromise, waive or release” student loans. The Biden administration used the same basis last year to forgive $6 billion in loans for borrowers who were deceived by their colleges.
The details of the new forgiveness will be negotiated through a federal rulemaking process that the administration launched June 30. The process allows the Education Department to write or change federal regulations with the weight of law.