President Biden is expected to make a statement on broadening federal student loan forgiveness by the end of this month. Borrowers anxiously await that announcement as the pause on federal loans is set to expire, and more students are taking out loans as fall semesters begin. Let’s take a look at the current state of student loan forgiveness and some of the resources available to journalists.
Types of loan forgiveness
There are a variety of ways borrowers can apply for loan forgiveness for federal loans. This includes forgiveness for public servants (more on this in the next section), teachers working in low-income schools, individuals living with permanent disabilities, rare bankruptcy cases, and death. Additionally, students are able to apply for forgiveness if the school they are attending closes before the completion of their degree.
According to the Education Data Initiative’s 2021 report, only 6.7% of eligible student borrowers applied for loan forgiveness through these various programs before 2021. This might mean that many borrowers were unaware of the options available to them.
View more information on the various options here.
Forgiveness for public service
As a part of the College Cost Reduction and Access Act of 2007, the Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) program was established and began reviewing applicants for forgiveness in 2017. This program is intended to cancel the remainder of loans for those who provide 10 years of public service to their community such as teachers, nurses, firefighters, government and non-profit workers.
Last October the PSLF program was temporarily expanded to allow more people to qualify for loan forgiveness. The limited waivers are expected to immediately make 22,000 borrowers eligible to have their loans discharged without further action on their part, totaling an estimated $1.74 billion in loan forgiveness. You can view monthly reports on acceptance and rejection rates on the U.S. Department of Education’s student aid website.
One noteworthy aspect to hone in on in the data is that almost a third of applications that are rejected are nixed for missing or incomplete information, not necessarily due to ineligibility. Journalists are able to point readers to resources and agencies, nationally and locally, that can help borrowers better understand the forgiveness process.
How much has Biden already forgiven?
So far, the Biden Administration has approved $25 billion in loan forgiveness, predominantly adding on to current programs. $7.9 billion went towards closed school and borrower defense programs, assisting 690,000 borrowers. $7.3 billion was added to the PSLF programs to help an additional 127,000 borrowers and $8.5 billion assisted 400,000 borrowers through disability programs.
In June, the Department of Education discharged all federal loans for 560,000 borrowers who attended Corinthian Colleges, forgiving another $5.8 billion in loans.
Current estimates put total student loan debt at over $1.75 trillion, with $1.05 trillion coming from federal direct loans which the government has the authority to impact. Therefore, $25 billion has reduced federal loan debt by around 2.3%.