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Biden to cancel nearly $6B in student loans for public service workers

President Joe Biden speaking in the White House Associated Press/Photo by Evan Vucci

Biden to cancel nearly $6B in student loans for public service workers

U.S. President Joe Biden announced on Thursday that another 78,000 borrowers will have $5.8 billion in federal student loans cleared under the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program. An additional 380,000 public service workers who are within two years of qualifying for the program will also receive emails assuring them they are on track for debt cancellation. The Department of Education canceled another $1.2 billion last month for roughly 153,000 borrowers under Biden’s Saving on a Valuable Education plan. The 81-year-old continues pushing through student loan forgiveness measures after the Supreme Court blocked the administration’s original $400 billion loan cancellation plan last year. The DOE reports that the Biden administration cleared $143.6 billion in student debt for 3.96 million Americans.

When did Biden pass this loan forgiveness program? George W. Bush established the program in 2007. The program originally cleared the federal student loan debt for public service workers who have made 10 years of on-time payments toward their student loans. Biden implemented several changes to the program, like expanding the program’s employment criteria and allowing late payments. Periods of deferment and forbearance are also now counted in the 10-year timetable for eligibility. The White House says more than 870,000 public service workers have had loans forgiven under the Biden administration, compared to the estimated 7,000 since the program’s launch. “Today, more than 100 times more borrowers are eligible for PSLF,” U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona said.

Does any government employee qualify? There’s a technical difference between public service workers and government employees. The Federal Student Aid office states workers in “any U.S.-based government organization at any level (federal, state, local, or tribal)” are eligible for PSLF. Certain not-for-profit organizations also qualify under the program. However, government contractors and elected members of Congress are not included.

Dig deeper: Listen to Nick Eicher and David L. Bahnsen’s report on The World and Everything In It podcast examining Biden’s billion-dollar loan cancellations in February.

Christina Grube

Christina Grube is a graduate of the World Journalism Institute.

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