Under the SAVE plan, Biden expects that community college grads will be among the biggest beneficiaries.
Immediate relief for some student loan borrowers will start as early as next month, the Education Department announced Friday.
The agency is speeding up its timeline for bringing forgiveness to borrowers enrolled in President Joe Biden’s new income-driven repayment plan, Saving on a Valuable Education. In February, borrowers enrolled in SAVE will have their debts immediately canceled if they originally took out $12,000 or less in undergraduate or graduate student loans and have been in repayment for at least 10 years.
The relief was previously set to begin taking effect in July.
“I am proud that my Administration is implementing one of the most impactful provisions of the SAVE plan nearly six months ahead of schedule,” Biden said in a statement.
The decision — which Education Department officials touted as their 25th executive action on student loan relief — is the most recent indication of the Biden administration’s fixation on alleviating the country’s student loan debt crisis. Despite legal and political pushback, Biden has made the issue a central piece of his reelection campaign.
Student loan debt cancelled next month
The program, which reduces student loan payments to $0 for millions of borrowers, has enrolled nearly 7 million borrowers, the department said. It has faced a barrage of challenges from congressional Republicans, some of whom have characterized it as a “free college scheme,” since it was rolled out in August.
Hoping to reach as many eligible borrowers as possible, the department is launching an outreach campaign to get more borrowers to sign up for the plan. In a press release, the agency strongly encouraged anyone who originally borrowed $12,000 or less in student loans to enroll in SAVE as soon as possible.
“These steps will help additional borrowers get the student debt relief that they need, and frankly, that they’re owed,” White House Domestic Policy Adviser Neera Tanden told reporters Thursday.
The Education Department did not clarify how many borrowers of the roughly 7 million already enrolled in SAVE might be eligible for the immediate relief. Officials indicated the biggest beneficiaries may be community college graduates. The agency expects nearly nine in 10 future community college borrowers enrolled in the SAVE plan will be debt free after 10 years.