The Biden administration has announced its plan to cancel some of America’s $1.6 trillion in federal student loan debt, fulfilling a campaign promise after months of anticipation. Up to 43 million borrowers are expected to receive relief, according to estimates from the White House.
Roughly 20 million borrowers are expected to see their entire remaining student loan balance erased.
Plans for “targeted student debt cancellation,” revealed Wednesday, are intended to help “borrowers at highest risk of delinquencies or default once payments resume,” the U.S. Department of Education said in a release.
As expected, student loan forgiveness will be restricted based on income. Borrowers “with annual income during the pandemic of under $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.
How that relief will be distributed has not yet been made clear.
In its Wednesday release, the Education Department said further details will be announced in the coming weeks. Borrowers will need to fill out an application, officials said, which will be available available before the student loan payment pause ends on Dec. 31.
Income data already available to the Department of Education shows nearly 8 million borrowers may qualify for student relief automatically.
Additional details about student loan forgiveness are expected in the coming weeks, and President Biden is scheduled to deliver remarks about the decision Wednesday afternoon.
In addition to student loan forgiveness, the Biden administration extended the payment pause on loans until the end of 2022, proposed a new rule to 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.