In response to the Biden-Harris administration’s decision to cancel $10,000 in student debt per borrower (including parents with federal PLUS loans), and an additional $10,000 for Pell grant recipients, TCF President Mark Zuckerman, former deputy director of President Obama’s Domestic Policy Council, and TCF Director of Higher Education Robert Shireman, former deputy undersecretary of education in the Obama administration, released the following statement:
“The Biden-Harris administration’s decision to cancel $10,000 in student loan debt for borrowers making under $125,000—and $20,000 for former Pell grant recipients—is historic and significant. The move, coupled with a further pause on loan repayments through the end of the year, will bring badly needed relief to millions of Americans who have been trapped by debt due to a broken student loan system, including an estimated 20 million who will receive total forgiveness under the plan. The administration’s actions will help ensure that pursuing a degree isn’t a one-way ticket into poverty. It is the right thing to do—for students, families, and the economy—and it will change lives.”
“Critically, the loan cancellation also extends to those with graduate debt and Parent PLUS loans—a group disproportionately impacted by student debt, and for whom TCF has been fighting to be included in any debt cancellation plan. Including Parent PLUS loans will translate to meaningful progress toward narrowing the racial wealth gap. These 3.7 million families whose parents owe upward of $104 billion through Parent PLUS loans are the ‘hidden casualties’ of the student loan crisis, as noted in a recent TCF report. Canceling their loans, which are of particular importance to low-income and Black families, especially those whose children attend HBCUs, is a clear sign that this plan is targeted precisely at the individuals and families who most need relief.
“The proposal also provides full loan forgiveness after 10 years, instead of 20 years, under income-driven repayment (IDR) plans for those who borrowed $12,000 or less, which will help many students who attended community colleges. And it cuts in half the amount IDR borrowers have to pay each month, capping payments at 5 percent of their income, which will greatly ease the daily cost burdens faced by low- and middle-income graduates. Additionally, the plan streamlines the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program—something TCF has defended and advocated for for years—making it easier for those working in public service to obtain credit toward debt relief.
“Above all, today’s decision should be the beginning—not the end—of a reinvigorated national effort to restore the promise of higher education by tackling the ever-increasing costs of college. Making higher education more affordable through reforms to our student financing system, increased public investment and aid, and proposals to limit the price of tuition (including free and debt-free college plans) is the path forward to ensure that college remains an engine of upward mobility, for this and future generations.”