(The Hill) — The Biden administration is moving forward with a new student loan relief plan that is narrower than its original proposal, which was struck down by the Supreme Court over the summer.
The Department of Education released regulatory draft text on Monday showing the new plan for student debt forgiveness is only targeting specific groups instead of providing cancelation for all 45 million borrowers like officials originally planned last year.
The administration is planning for the debt relief to go to borrowers who:
- Have federal student loan balances that are greater than what they originally borrowed
- Have loans they’ve been paying off for 25 years or more
- Attended schools with high student loan default rates or programs that created high debt but low wages
- Were eligible for targeted relief programs in place such as the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program
“President Biden and I are committed to helping borrowers who’ve been failed by our country’s broken and unaffordable student loan system,” said Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona. “These draft proposals would build on the historic $127 billion in loan forgiveness the Biden-Harris Administration has already approved for nearly 3.6 million borrowers. We are fighting to ensure that student debt does not stand in the way of opportunity or prevent borrowers from realizing the benefits of their higher education.”
The department also issued a paper to consider adding one more group to their plan: borrowers experiencing financial hardship that the student loan system does not take into consideration currently.
It’s unclear how many borrowers would be impacted by the plan or how much it would cost. It could take months before those details are finalized.
The latest attempt rests on the Higher Education Act of 1965, a wide-reaching law that gives the education secretary power to “compromise, waive or release” certain debts. But the law is unclear on how the secretary can wield that authority, creating a legal gray area that has been the subject of debate since Biden took office.
The draft proposal is for the committee that has been tasked with going through the negotiated rulemaking process that will ultimately work to make the final plan. The committee, made up of different groups with stakes in student loan debt, will continue to meet in November and December.
The proposal from the department is much narrower than their plan last year, which would have given at least $10,000 in student debt relief to nearly all student loan borrowers.
Federal student loan payments resumed in October for the first time since the start of the pandemic. Some in the industry have warned of potential problems as understaffed loan servicers bring millions of borrowers back into repayment at the same time.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.