Joe Biden's Student Loan Forgiveness Needs to Go Further, Progressives Say

Progressive Democrats are continuing to push President Joe Biden to cancel all student loan debt.

The U.S. Department of Education announced a plan on Tuesday to address the "longstanding failures" within federal student loan programs, which will result in the immediate forgiveness of student loan debt for at least 40,000 people.

The plan, designed to aid low-income borrowers and public servants, is also set to help another 3.6 million people get closer to having their debts cleared, according to the Education Department.

The measures come on top of other steps taken by the Biden administration, including an extension of the pause on student loan payments through August.

But they fall short of ongoing calls from the progressive wing of the Democratic Party for the president to cancel student loan debt through executive action.

"This move will make a meaningful difference for those impacted, especially borrowers with lower incomes," the Progressive Caucus tweeted.

"But more than 45 million people are stuck in the student debt trap. We've called on @POTUS to use his existing authority to cancel it — and we'll continue to do so."

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer welcomed the plan on Tuesday, tweeting that it is "another great step to help millions of student loan borrowers!"

But Schumer added that he "won't stop working for President Biden to use his existing legal authority to #CancelStudentDebt."

Democrats who have been pushing for comprehensive student loan forgiveness have made their stance clear in recent days.

"Today would be a great day to cancel student loan debt," Rep. Pramila Jayapal tweeted on Tuesday.

Rep. Ayanna Pressley wrote on Monday: "Let's be real, every day would be a good day to #CancelStudentDebt. Let's get it done, @POTUS."

At the weekend, Sen. Bernie Sanders tweeted: "It is time to cancel all student debt." In a video featured in the tweet, he said: "At a time when so many of our younger generation are struggling you should cancel all student debt. That is my own view."

In a recent guest essay for The New York Times, Sen. Elizabeth Warren warned that Democrats must deliver on more of their agenda, including on relieving student loan debt, or face a "disaster" in the November midterms.

The Biden administration canceled more than $17 billion in debt for 725,000 borrowers in its first year in office and extended the pause on loan repayments that has provided temporary relief to some 41 million borrowers, the Education Department said on Tuesday.

But more than 43 million borrowers are carrying about $1.6 trillion in outstanding federal student loan debt, according to the Education Data Initiative.

While on the campaign trail, Biden pledged to cancel $10,000 in student loan debt for each borrower.

But some Democrats, including Schumer and Elizabeth Warren have urged Biden to cancel up to $50,000 in student loan debt per borrower through executive action.

Biden's press secretary, Jen Psaki, recently said the president could decide whether to cancel student loan debt by September.

The White House has been contacted for comment. Schumer, Jayapal, Pressley, Sanders and Warren have also been contacted for additional comment.

Cancel Student Debt rally
A person wearing a medical jacket holds a sign during a Cancel Student Debt rally outside the U.S. Department of Education in Washington, DC, on April 4, 2022. Stefani Reynolds/AFP via Getty Images