The Biden administration is proposing a new plan to forgive student debt, months after the Supreme Court struck down President Joe Biden’s sweeping pandemic-era debt relief plan in June.
The Education Department on Monday released a student debt relief proposal that would target four categories of borrowers: those with federal student loan balances that exceed the original borrowed amount; those with loans that entered into repayment 25 years ago or more; those with loans for career training programs that led to “unreasonable debt loads or provided insufficient earnings”; and those who are eligible for forgiveness under other repayment plans but have not applied for it.
The department also said it is considering student debt relief for a fifth group of borrowers “experiencing financial hardship that the current student loan system does not currently adequately address.”
“President Biden and I are committed to helping borrowers who’ve been failed by our country’s broken and unaffordable student loan system,” Education Secretary Miguel Cardona said in a statement, adding that the aid would build upon $127 billion in loan forgiveness the administration has approved for about 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,” he said.
The White House announced an additional $9 billion in relief this month for about 125,000 Americans. That announcement came days after federal student loan payments resumed for the first time in over three years following the Supreme Court’s rejection of Biden’s sweeping pandemic-era debt relief plan in June.
The president’s previous student debt relief plan aimed to cancel up to $20,000 in student debt for an estimated 43 million borrowers.
After the Supreme Court invalidated that plan, Biden announced new repayment options for borrowers, who would be able to enroll in a temporary 12-month “onramp repayment program” to avoid the risk of default after loan repayments resumed in October, he said.
The Education Department won’t refer those who have missed payments to credit agencies during that 12-month window, Biden said.
In addition, Biden announced he was lowering the cap on discretionary income paid toward student debt from 10% to 5% per month for undergraduate loans.
Biden had sought to provide debt relief in his initial plan under a 2003 law called the Higher Education Relief Opportunities for Students Act, or HEROES Act. That law says the government can provide relief for student loans during a national emergency as a way to alleviate economic hardship arising from it.
Summer Concepcion is a politics reporter for NBC News.