Sec. Miguel Cardona will look into Biden’s authority to forgive $50,000 in student loan debt
Depending on two memos requested from the Department of Education and the Department of Justice, Biden could cancel $50,000 in student debt — if he deems himself to be capable.
While President Joe Biden has previously said that he is opposed to substantial student loan forgiveness, a recent move by the president indicates that he may be more easily swayed on the issue than previously thought.
During a CNN town hall in February, Biden was asked if he would be in favor of $50,000 in student loan forgiveness per borrower. He had campaigned on the premise of student loan cancellation, but only up to $10,000 per borrower.
In response, Biden reformulated his support for the latter, saying that his administration would eventually support more pathways to loan forgiveness for borrowers with higher amounts of debt, perhaps even capping interest accrual. He has also said that he doesn’t have the authority to unilaterally absolve this debt.
This is a point of debate among progressive members of Congress, who insist that he does in fact possess the authority.
Since then, Biden’s stance has garnered continued pressure from politicians and national advocacy groups urging the president to use his authority to cancel a large sum — or the entirety of student loan debt held by millions of Americans.
Per White House Chief of Staff Ron Klain, Biden has asked Education Secretary Miguel Cardona to compile a memo on his legal authority to forgive student loan debt. Klain said the president will make his decision “within the next few weeks” after he receives the relevant memos, including one he has requested from the Justice Department.
Biden has asked Education Secretary Miguel Cardona to compile a memo on the president's legal authorities to forgive student loan debt, including a cancellation up to $50,000, White House Chief of Staff Ron Klain said at a POLITICO Playbook event today.https://t.co/3m6O7kOVeG
— Axios (@axios) April 1, 2021
In previous remarks, Cardona said student loan debt would be a “priority,” adding: “It would be an area of focus that, early on, we’d have to really make sure we’re coming up with clear support plans and strategies.”
In less than two months, Cardona has made significant moves in his new position.
About 72,000 people now have their federal loans fully canceled after he ended a policy instituted by Trump-era predecessor, Betsy DeVos. It reinstated the Obama administration’s practice of granting full cancellation to students when it is deemed a college committed fraud.
Those affected got their full federal loan cancellation, equaling about a billion dollars.
One of Cardona’s most recent moves also impacted Puerto Rico.
His department has provided Puerto Rico “immediate” access to $912 million in federal education funds, which had not been available to Puerto Rico as a result of previously imposed grant conditions under the Trump administration.
At his confirmation hearing, Cardona acknowledged the racial disparities in higher education in correlation with the staggering student loan debt in the nation.
Perhaps now he will confirm to the president that he has the authority to make a bigger difference for the millions impacted by student loan debt.