Pressure Increases for Biden to Cancel Student Loan Debt

President has canceled more debt than any predecessor, but borrowers feel let down
By Bob Cronin,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 2, 2022 3:35 PM CDT
Pressure Builds on Biden to Do More on Student Loan Relief
A graduation-themed mural is shown on the Howard University campus in Washington, DC, last summer.   (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)

During his 2020 campaign, President Biden called for canceling student debt up to $10,000 for the 43 million people who borrowed money for school. He hasn't done that, though he's chipped away at the debt, canceling loans for people who are permanently disabled, those employed in the public sector, and borrowers defrauded by for-profit colleges. In total, Biden has canceled more student loan debt than any other president has—exceeding $17 billion for more than 700,000 borrowers, CNN reports. But many people were counting on more, and they're not happy with Biden.

"He's not delivering on his promise," said Jennifer Lewis, 57, who owes about $80,000. "If he were to run again, I would think twice about voting for president at all." Biden's approach hasn't made the big splash that canceling debt for everyone at once would, or given him much political credit. An education policy adviser at a think tank espousing center-left positions points out that not everyone thinks scrapping student debt is wise. "There is far from a consensus viewpoint among Democratic members of Congress and Democratic voters that large sums of debt should be canceled," said Michelle Dimino of Third Way. Economists warn that extending the current pause on payments could make inflation worse.

Still, more than 90 congressional Democrats, including Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, urged Biden this week to do that, per the Hill. The pause on payments, which also freezes interest charges, began in early 2020 as the pandemic began. In a letter to the president, the House and Senate lawmakers called for an extension at least through the end of the year for the pause, which is scheduled to expire May 1. They also called for Biden to "cancel student debt now," increasing the political pressure on the president to act. The student loan system increases the racial wealth gap, their letter said: "Black students in particular borrow more to attend college, borrow more often while they are in school, and have a harder time paying their debt off than their white peers." (Read more student loans stories.)

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