The Department of Education announced Wednesday that eligibility for student loan forgiveness had been extended to thousands more after alterations to government programs.
The announcement followed policy changes to the nearly 15-year-old Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) program adopted in October 2021. The PSLF was crafted with the intent that eligible public service workers would make monthly payments on their debt for a decade after which time, with continued public service, the remainder of their debt would be cleared.
According to the department, the overhaul allowed them to identify nearly 100,000 newly qualified borrowers and they suspect this will ultimately lead to one million forgiven borrowers.
In October, ED made major changes to the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program that will help nearly 1 million borrowers. Find out what that may mean for you. ⬇️https://t.co/RKlU314ili
— U.S. Department of Education (@usedgov) March 8, 2022
CNN reported these cancellations may total as much as $6.2 billion in forgiven debt and that ED has been reaching out to borrowers in waves to notify them of their eligibility. The growth in eligible borrowers stems from a temporary expansion of the program to include older loans that did not originally qualify.
Set to end on October 31, 2022, this expansion is anticipated to reach more than half a million borrowers. To this point, President Joe Biden’s administration touts the cancellation of more than $16 billion in student loans and early indicators suggest he will continue to use those obligations as a political tool.
At the onset of the pandemic, President Donald Trump initiated a pause to federal student loans that halted payments and accrual of interest in March 2020. Since being sworn in, Biden has continued to extend the period for this pause despite the economy having opened back up.
With payments scheduled to begin again on May 1, Biden’s chief of staff Ron Klain has suggested that another extension may be coming. Appearing in an interview Thursday for “Pod Save America,” Klain said, “I think the President’s going to look at what we should do on student debt before the pause expires, or he’ll extend the pause.”
NEW: @WHCOS Ron Klain on what the president will do about student debt:
"The President is going to look at what we should do on student debt before the pause expires, or he'll extend the pause." pic.twitter.com/izoc0dLaVW
— Pod Save America (@PodSaveAmerica) March 3, 2022
Tomas Philipson, former acting chair of the Council of Economic Advisers for Trump, suggested in July 2021 after a wave of debt cancellation that these kinds of moves “are just a way to pay for future voters liking big government.”
Philipson alluded to potential indoctrination in the higher education system and believes the administration “is pushing in this direction, presumably because they know that if kids go to school, they’re more likely to vote Democratic.”
Considering Biden’s campaign pledge was to remove at least $10,000 worth of debt for nearly 43 million borrowers, that could account for a lot of votes. Education Secretary Miguel Cardona hit on the political nature of the policy, stating, “The PSLF announcement made today means more of our dedicated teachers, nurses, first responders, service members, and many other public service workers will get meaningful relief.”
While Philipson argued these forgiveness programs and efforts to make universities “free” led to a devaluation of the education provided, “Dirty Jobs” host Mike Rowe pointed out it also has a negative impact on the culture.
Along with stating the obvious disparity of forgiving current student loan debt while someone who worked years to finish their payments gets the shaft, Rowe expounded on the acceptance of consequences for personal decisions.
Rowe said of those who were peddled a degree that promised them no career, “that’s not my fault. Nor is it the fault of the American people. The fault belongs to you, and so does the debt.”
“This is why I push back against the insane notion that a four-year degree is the best path for the most people,” Rowe continued. “I don’t want to see more people borrow money they can’t afford to pay back. But nor do I wish to pay it back for you.”
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