White House Announces Billions More in Student Debt Relief

April 12, 2024

The White House on Friday announced it will cancel another $7.4 billion in student loan debt, the latest in a string of loan forgiveness initiatives as President Joe Biden looks to take on Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump this fall.  

"Today, President Biden announced that 277,000 more Americans will get their student debt canceled, bringing the total debt relief approved by the Biden-Harris Administration to $153 billion for 4.3 million Americans through various actions," the White House said in a Friday statement.

Education undersecretary James Kvaal noted the 277,000 borrowers "have been making payments on their student loans for at least a decade," adding that "they have paid what they can afford, and they have earned loan forgiveness for the balance of their loan."

Nearly half of Friday’s forgiveness sum—$3.6 billion—is intended for the 206,800 borrowers who have enrolled in Biden’s income-driven repayment initiative known as the Saving on a Valuable Education plan. The president launched the SAVE plan last year, in defiance of the Supreme Court’s ruling that he had overstepped his authority in canceling more than $400 billion of student loans for about 43 million Americans.

The Biden administration on Friday also waived $3.5 billion for 65,700 borrowers enrolled in other income-driven repayment plans, and an additional $300 million for 4,600 individuals through the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program.

The $7.4 billion student debt forgiveness came after Biden on Monday already offered relief to more than 30 million borrowers. In February, the administration approved $1.2 billion in loan forgiveness for over 150,000 borrowers enrolled in the SAVE plan.

The White House in a Monday statement accused Republican officials of "try[ing] every which way to block millions of their own constituents from receiving student debt cancellation," adding that Biden would "use every tool available to cancel student debt for as many borrowers as possible, as quickly as possible." 

In response, House speaker Mike Johnson (R., La.) said the administration has been circumventing the Supreme Court ruling last June and is "once again trying to buy votes" ahead of Biden’s rematch with Trump in the presidential election this fall. 

"The reality is that these debts are not ‘forgiven,’ they are merely transferred to American taxpayers, many of whom made sacrifices to get an education they could afford," Johnson wrote on X. "It is only just and fair for borrowers, not the American people, to be responsible for paying off their own debts."