WASHINGTON, D.C. – The Department of Education announced Friday it would automatically forgive student loans for more than 800,000 borrowers.
The action is a result of what the department calls a “fix” to income-driven repayment plans.
It’s expected to total $39 billion dollars in federal student loan forgiveness.
The department said the move will address administrative issues in the income-driven repayment system.
Under the plans, federal student loan borrowers are eligible for forgiveness after 20 or 25 years of payments, depending on the plan.
But according to the Education Department, some qualifying payments that should have moved borrowers closer to forgiveness were not accounted for.
Education Secretary Miguel Cardona said in a statement, “For far too long, borrowers fell through the cracks of a broken system that failed to keep accurate track of their progress towards forgiveness… by fixing past administrative failures, we are ensuring everyone gets the forgiveness they deserve.”
The Supreme Court struck down President Joe Biden’s plan to forgive up to $20,000 in debt for 43 million federal student loan borrowers in a 6-3 ruling last month, dealing a blow to one of his key campaign promises.
Immediately after the ruling, Biden said his administration would explore other avenues for relief, which led to closing this loophole.
President Biden has also directed the Education Department to formulate a new plan for loan forgiveness grounded in the Higher Education Act.
He promised the proposal would be “legally sound,” while warning that “it’s going to take longer.”
The specifics of the new plan have yet to be announced.
Friday’s announcement is a smaller step the Biden administration is taking to pursue federal student loan relief with existing authority.
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