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President Biden defended his student loan forgiveness plan in a speech at an Historically Black College (HBCU) in his home state of Delaware Friday afternoon.
Since launching the official application on Monday, Oct. 17, nearly 22 million Americans have applied or submitted their personal info for $10,000 to $20,000 in relief, depending on their income and whether they received a Pell grant.
“Close to 22 million people” have already given the U.S. Department of Education their information to apply for student loan debt relief,” Biden announced at Delaware State University in Dover, DE on Friday.
“It’s easy,” Biden added, stressing that working class people benefit most from the plan as 40 million Americans in total are eligible for the relief.
“Not a dime will go to the top 5% incomes period. It goes to the people who really need it.”
White House pushes back against criticism on student loan debt forgiveness
While some have questioned Biden’s authority to approve student loan forgiveness for those making less than $125,000 a year, at least two lawsuits seeking to stop the plan have failed as of Thursday.
A lawsuit against the plan brought by governors of Republican-led states was shot down by a federal judge, according to the Washington Post. Another lawsuit from a Wisconsin-based group of taxpayers, was shot down by conservative Supreme Court justice Amy Coney Barrett, Reuters reported.
Biden is encouraging borrowers to fill out the one-time application by Nov. 15, though they have until the end of 2023 to do so.
“Republican members of congress and Republican governors are doing everything they can” to stop relief, Biden said on Friday. “Their outrage is wrong, and it’s hypocritical. They’ve been fighting us in the courts, but just yesterday, a state court and the Supreme Court said ‘no, we’re on Biden’s side.”
Biden chose to give the speech at HBCU Delaware State University, a campus he has ties to, and one that symbolizes student debt’s disproportionate impact on Black Americans.
Collectively, Americans hold $1.7 trillion in debt, burdening millions of families. Yet, Black Americans are more likely to hold debt and are more likely to need it to attend college, according to Brookings.
Biden: “When we do well, the whole country does well”
In an interview with The Black Wall Street Times Friday morning, White House Education Secretary Miguel Cardona defended the plan and blasted critics who oppose it.
Managing Editor @indepthwithDeon spoke with White House Ed. Sec. Cardona about critics of student loan debt relief.
"They weren’t complaining in 2017 when they passed a tax break for millionaires." pic.twitter.com/dH7L40qD6M
— The Black Wall Street Times (@TheBWSTimes) October 21, 2022
The White House quietly released a beta version of the application on Friday, Oct. 14. By Saturday, they’d already received 5 million people had already applied.
“That’s how much interest there is,” Secretary Cardona told The Black Wall Street Times. By Monday, Oct 17, eight million Americans had applied, a number that has now risen to nearly 22 million when including applicants and those whose information is on file.
Still, some Democrats from battleground states, such as Senate nominee Tim Ryan in Ohio, criticized the student loan forgiveness program.
“Waiving debt for those already on a trajectory to financial security sends the wrong message to millions of Ohioans without a degree working just as hard to make ends meet,” Ryan (D) said, according to AXIOS.
Education Secretary calls out Republican opposition to student loan debt relief
Meanwhile, Republicans say the plan will increase an already 40-year high inflation rate.
“We’re putting dollars back in the pockets of over 40 million people,” Sec. Cardona countered.
“Republicans are pointing fingers about inflation. We’re helping people get dollars back in their pockets to address these costs. So it kinda falls on its face.”
Cardona believes the criticism is hypocritical.
“They weren’t complaining in 2017 when they passed a tax break for millionaires. So I don’t wanna hear that they’re struggling with the fact that we’re helping everyday middle-class Americans,” Cardona told The Black Wall Street Times.
Meanwhile, at Biden’s speech on Friday, he stressed that 90 percent of benefits will go to those students making less than 75,000 a year.
“Together we’re making our democracy deliver for the American people,” Biden said. “When we do, well the whole country does well.”
To apply for student loan debt forgiveness, visit the US Department of Education’s Federal Student Aid website.