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The United States declared the forgiveness of $1.2 billion in student loan debt

WASHINGTON, DC – In the wake of the Supreme Court’s rejection of President Biden’s extensive plan to cancel billions in student loan debt, the President has shifted gears to tackle the issue incrementally. On Wednesday, Biden announced the cancellation of $1.2 billion in student loan debt, bringing the total debt relief during his presidency to $138 billion for 3.9 million borrowers.

This measured approach is a departure from Biden’s initial proposal, which aimed to eliminate up to $400 billion in debt for around 43 million borrowers. Despite the scaled-back strategy, even critics concede that Biden has outpaced his predecessors in providing relief to millions of borrowers.

Addressing a crowd at a library in Culver City, Calif., Biden emphasized the positive impact on the economy, stating, “By freeing millions of Americans from the crushing debt of student loan programs, it means they can finally get on with their lives.”

To navigate around the Supreme Court decision, Biden has adopted a piecemeal strategy, making adjustments to existing programs plagued by bureaucratic delays. The recent debt cancellation, affecting approximately 150,000 borrowers enrolled in the SAVE plan—an income-driven repayment program—illustrates this approach. The beneficiaries have lower balances and have made payments for at least a decade.

While the Biden administration has periodically announced limited forms of debt cancellation over the past year, the President’s direct address during a fundraising swing through California signals a desire to garner more credit for these efforts. Democratic allies have urged the administration to highlight debt cancellation to mobilize crucial constituencies, including young voters and Black borrowers disproportionately affected by student debt.

Braxton Brewington, the press secretary for the Debt Collective, an advocacy group focused on student debt cancellation, highlighted the common experience of disappointment among borrowers who expected relief only to see it denied by the Supreme Court.

Despite facing challenges and criticisms, Biden’s aides view student debt cancellation as a swift means to improve the lives of Americans and potentially boost the President’s approval ratings. The administration has implemented targeted relief for public service workers, permanently disabled borrowers, defrauded students, and individuals affected by sudden school closures. Additionally, a recent proposal from the Education Department aims to cancel student debt for additional borrowers facing financial “hardship.”

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