The Department of Education announced Thursday the Biden administration had decided to erase $5.8 billion in federal student loan debt for 323,000 borrowers.
Graduates who qualify for forgiveness must meet the Total and Permanent Disability (TPD) discharge program requirements.
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President Biden has already suspended interest charges and loan payments for all borrowers until February. However, legislators like Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) are pressing Biden to cancel $50,000 in student loan debt for all borrowers.
For now, the White House has instructed the Education Department to team up with the Social Security Administration to cancel student loan debt for people considered totally and permanently disabled. The two agencies will review records quarterly, and those who qualify will not be required to apply for the relief.
"This action is long overdue and will make a huge difference in the lives of hundreds of thousands of borrowers who have been trapped in unnecessary student debt," said the National Consumer Law Center’s Persis Yu, calling it a "life-altering announcement."
Although the program has existed, many borrowers may not have known they qualified because of the tedious, cumbersome application process.
"We've heard loud and clear from borrowers with disabilities and advocates about the need for this change and we are excited to follow through on it," said a statement from Education Secretary Miguel Cardona. "This change reduces red tape with the aim of making processes as simple as possible for borrowers who need support."
When including the new group of forgiven borrowers, the department said the Biden administration had released more than 450,000 people from repayment obligations.