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Biden says he won’t cancel $50,000 in student loan debt but will have an answer on forgiveness in a few weeks

April 28, 2022, 6:13 PM UTC

President Joe Biden threw cold water on calls for large-scale student loan debt cancellation during a speech Thursday.

He will not cancel $50,000 in debt for every borrower, as some Democrats are pushing for. Beyond nixing that specific number, the president did not provide more details on what actions, if any, he may be planning.

“I am in the process of taking a hard look at whether or not there will be additional debt forgiveness,” Biden said. “I’ll have an answer on that in the next couple of weeks.”

This statement comes a few days after members of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus told several news outlets that Biden seemed open to canceling student loan debt in a private meeting, causing a flurry of headlines and renewing hope for cash-strapped borrowers that their debt may soon be forgiven.

It also comes the same day that Biden forgave $238 million in cosmetology school loans for 28,000 borrowers defrauded by the Marinello Schools of Beauty.

During his presidential campaign, Biden backed forgiving $10,000 in federal student loan debt per borrower. It’s possible that amount is still on the table. So far, he has canceled debt for some defrauded borrowers and certain disabled borrowers, and has made changes to established forgiveness programs like public service loan forgiveness (PSLF) and income-based repayment plans (IRP).

Canceling $10,000 per federal borrower would eliminate $321 billion of student loans, while canceling $50,000 would discharge $904 billion, according to a recent report from the Federal Reserve of New York. About one-third of borrowers would see their debt completely erased if $10,000 were forgiven; eight out of 10 borrowers would be debt-free if $50,000 were canceled.

Federal borrowers have not had to make loan payments since March 2020. In that time, they’ve saved $1.5 billion each month in interest payments alone, according to a recent report.

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