Up to 43 million Americans will soon see some or all of their federal student debt forgiven following a Wednesday announcement by the Biden administration. The widespread relief will be more impactful in some states than others, data suggests.
Under President Biden’s plan, borrowers making less than $125,000 (for individuals) or under $250,000 (for married couples or heads of households) will be eligible for up to $10,000 in relief, according to the Education Department. Borrowers under the same income caps who received a Pell Grant in college will be eligible for up to $20,000 in debt cancellation.
For roughly 20 million borrowers, this means all of their federal student loan debt will be forgiven, the White House says. For others, this forgiveness will give some relief but still leave them with a bit of debt.
According to the most recent data made available by the Department of Education, the average federal student loan borrower owes $35,889. That figure is even higher in some states, as seen in the interactive map below.
Not included in the map above is the District of Columbia, residents of which have an average of $55,508 in federal student loan debt. Nearby Maryland isn't far off, carrying an average debt of $43,619. Georgia is the only other state to have an average debt higher than $40,000.
Alternatively, North Dakota has the lowest debt average in the nation at $29,885. Iowa residents are nearly as low at $30,998, followed by Wyoming at $31,365 and South Dakota at $31,979.
It's currently unclear how soon the Biden administration will begin forgiving federal student loans.
Federal officials say nearly 8 million borrowers may qualify for relief automatically based on the income data the Education Department already has. If the Education Department doesn’t have your income data, or you’re unsure if the agency has it, there isn’t much to do right now.
Here's what you can do while waiting for more details to be announced.
In addition to student loan forgiveness, the Biden administration extended the payment pause on loans until the end of 2022, proposed a rule change to create a new income-driven repayment plan that will substantially reduce future monthly payments for lower- and middle-income borrowers and proposed long-term changes to the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program.
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