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Relief for millions of Americans in the form of student loan debt cancellation is “still on the table,” according to comments from the White House spokesperson released on Friday.
President Biden’s White House press secretary Jen Psaki made the announcement on the political show Pod Save America, adding that a “decision” could be made in the coming months.
“Yes, still on the table, still on the table,” Psaki said on the show to cheers from the audience attending the live podcast, which was released by the platform on Friday.
Currently, Biden has extended the pause on paying back student loans to August 31, the sixth extension since former twice-impeached president Trump’s first pause during the onset of the pandemic.
Biden campaigned on using execution action to immediately cancel up to $10,000 in student loan debt for the 43 million Americans who owe. Since becoming president, however, he’s so far called on Congress to take permanent action instead.
Yet Democratic members of Congress and progressive Senators Bernie Sanders (I-Vt), Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass), along with Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), have continually called on Biden to act on his own. They have doubts a bill could pass through Congress, considering the Senate would need some Republican votes.
Biden White House weighing decision
Weeks ago, White House Chief of Staff Ron Klain hinted at possible cancellation, saying “the question whether or not there’s some executive action student debt forgiveness when the payments resume is a decision we’re going to take before the payments resume.”
In Friday’s release of the Pod Save America episode, press secretary Psaki appeared to co-sign the earlier statement.
According to Psaki, the White House is currently deciding whether to add another extension or to use executive action to cancel up to $10,000 in student loan debt immediately.
??“Nobody’s had to pay a dollar, a cent, anything in student loans since Joe Biden has been president,” Psaki said. “And if that can help people ease the burden of costs in other parts of their lives, that’s an important thing to consider. That’s a big part of the consideration.”
Student loan debt cancelation would help millions contribute more to the economy
Notably, Obama’s former education secretary publicly called on Biden to cancel all student loan debt in the U.S., all $1.75 trillion of it.
King, who served under President Barack Obama, told CBS News that the federal government paid roughly 80% of the cost of college for students through its Pell grant program in the 1980s. But the government’s move in recent decades to cut its investment in higher education has left many students deeply in debt, with today’s Pell program covering less than a third of annual tuition for grant recipients.
Without the burden of student loans, the Roosevelt Institute estimates Black wealth could increase by up to 40%.
More than 43 million Americans — nearly 13% of the U.S. population — carry student debt, according to the St. Louis Federal Reserve. The average borrower owes about $37,000.
For his part, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) has been urging Biden to cancel $50,000 of student loan debt for each borrower, a sum that would free people up to purchase homes, start a business, and better provide for their families.
“We’re making progress folks. We are making progress. The White House seems more open to it than ever before,” Senator Schumer told activists on Wednesday.