Here’s what next for student loan cancellation.
Here’s what you need to know — and what it means for your student loans.
From rallies on Capitol Hill to cancel student loan debt to hearings on student loan forgiveness, there’s been no shortage of focus on student loans. Congress and the Biden administration will have significant impact on the next steps for student loan forgiveness. What’s next for your student loans? Here are 4 things to know:
1. There will be more student loan cancellation
President Joe Biden has cancelled more student loans than any president in history. Since becoming president, Biden has now cancelled nearly $10 billion of student loans for hundreds of thousands of student loan borrowers. This is in addition to the nearly $60 billion that Biden will have cancelled by early next year through temporary student loan forbearance. The U.S. Department of Education estimates that temporary student loan forbearance collectively has saved student loan borrowers $5 billion each month during the Covid-19 pandemic. Similarly, President Donald Trump cancelled nearly $20 billion of student loans by extending student loan relief from the Cares Act, the $2.2 trillion stimulus package that Congress passed in March 2020. The good news for student loan borrowers is that Biden will continue to cancel student loans during the coming months and years. That student loan cancellation is likely to be based on existing law and implemented through the U.S. Department of Education, which U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona leads. (Here’s how to get student loan forgiveness). Student loan forgiveness can take many forms, but Biden has focused student loan forgiveness on the borrower defense to repayment rule as well as student loan cancellation for disabled student loan borrowers, as two recent examples. (Find out how to apply for nearly $10 billion of student loan forgiveness). Biden has cancelled $1.5 billion of student loans this way, and you can learn how to apply now since student loan cancellation is still available).
2. Wide-scale student loan cancellation is unlikely
Wide-scale student loan cancellation is unlikely to happen. While student loan cancellation would help more student loan borrowers, this doesn’t mean that Biden will cancel everyone’s student loan debt. There may be many good reasons to cancel student loans up to $50,000 for student loan borrowers — ranging from stimulating the economy to addressing disparities to giving a fresh financial start to a generation of student loan borrowers — but the possibility is slim. Could Biden surprise student loan borrowers and unilaterally enact wide-scale student loan cancellation? Sure. However, it’s unlikely he will do so based on his past comments. (Here are 5 reasons why Biden hasn’t cancelled student loans). Biden supports $10,000 of student loan forgiveness, but wants Congress to cancel student loans through legislation. Biden, an attorney and former chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, said he doesn’t believe he has the legal authority to cancel student loans unilaterally without further congressional authorization. Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) has publicly agreed with Biden on his lack of authority to cancel student loans on a wide-scale basis. Further, there has been no indication from within the Biden administration that wide-scale student loan cancellation has been a top policy priority. (If you don’t get student loan forgiveness, do these 3 things). Despite public rhetoric, Congress hasn’t even held a vote on wide-scale student loan forgiveness. (Here’s where Democrats stand on student loan forgiveness).
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3. Student loan relief is expiring January 31, 2022
This is completely real: student loan relief is expiring January 31, 2022. The Biden administration has said this most recent extension in August is the final extension. In total, student loan borrowers will have received nearly 22 months of temporary student loan forbearance, which, among other student loan relief, allowed them not to make any federal student loan payments or accrue any new interest on their student loans. Please don’t expect that student loan relief will somehow be extended again. Prepare as if your student loan payments are due starting February 1, 2022. Contact your student loan servicer to update your contact information and autopay information. If you are struggling financially or are pursuing public service loan forgiveness, consider an income-driven repayment plan. Make sure to update your income and family size, which can impact the amount of your monthly student loan payment when enrolled in an income-driven repayment plan. In addition to financial planning, there is a psychological element to student loan repayment. Restarting student loan payments after a 22-month pause can be mentally draining. Start preparing for that mindset shift now, so you’re not surprised next year.
4. Student loan forgiveness will increase and be easier to get
Student loan cancellation has happened thanks in part to these heroes. Biden is focused on improving outcomes for student loan borrowers. The Education Department wants to simplify student loan repayment and income-driven repayment plans. The Education Department has solicited public feedback and held hearings on how to improve the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program, which historically has a 98% rejection rate. Expect student loan servicers to be held accountable if they don’t perform their role accurately or in good faith. Will student loans be perfect? No. Will student loans be better than before? That’s the hope. College and graduate school are expensive enough. Student loan borrowers don’t need additional hurdles during student loan repayment as they seek to live the American Dream. With these intended changes, student loan forgiveness should become more readily available through income-driven repayment plans and the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program, for example. (Here are 17 ways that Biden can fix student loan forgiveness).
Student loan forgiveness is not guaranteed. Even if Biden continues to pursue targeted student loan cancellation, you may not qualify. With student loan payments restarting, make sure you understand all your options. Here are some popular ways to save money: