Biden’s 2023 budget makes no mention of student loan forgiveness
US President Joe Biden delivers a speech at the Royal Castle in Warsaw, Poland, March 26, 2022.
Brendan Smialowski | AFP | Getty Images
Nowhere in President Joe Biden’s 100-plus-page budget for 2023 is there any mention of student loan forgiveness or pausing payments for borrowers, prolonging the uncertainty in which millions of Americans were about the future of their debt.
The White House only requested additional funding — $2.7 billion — to improve customer service for borrowers.
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Still, it’s unclear when people with student loans will need to interact with their service agents again. Most borrowers haven’t paid their debt for more than two years, thanks to a break on bills that has been repeatedly extended.
Despite the omission of any information about the payment pause from Biden’s budget, the administration has suggested it is considering delaying the resumption of payments beyond May, when they are currently expected to resume.
White House Chief of Staff Ron Klain said earlier this month that Biden wanted to make his decision on debt cancellation before reactivating payments.
“The president is going to look at what we should do on student debt before the break expires, or he’ll extend the break,” Klain said on the “Pod Save America” podcast.
The White House would likely only include a pardon request if it planned to ask Congress to implement it, said higher education expert Mark Kantrowitz.
Its omission could suggest that the administration was still considering debt cancellation without legislation, either through new regulations or executive action.
In the meantime, he said, “they don’t need to budget for an extension.”
Some Democrats and advocates have warned it would be a disaster to restart payments before the midterm elections in November.
Research shows borrowers could face significant hurdles in May. An estimate found that almost a third of loan holders could be at high risk of missing their payments without further extension.
Even before the pandemic, the country’s outstanding student debt exceeded $1.7 trillion and placed a greater burden on households than credit card or automobile debt. The average debt at graduation is about $30,000 and it is estimated that about a quarter of borrowers, or 10 million people, are in default.
A recent poll found that nearly 66% of likely voters support Biden canceling some or all of the student debt, with more than 70% of Latino and black voters in favor.
Critics of a student debt jubilee say it would be unfair to those who have not borrowed for education or repaid their loans and would not significantly boost the economy as university graduates have tend to have higher incomes. redirect their monthly bill towards savings rather than additional expenses.
Right now, the lack of guidance at this point is frustrating for borrowers and managers, said Scott Buchanan, executive director of the Student Loan Servicing Alliance, a trade group for federal student loan managers.
“The constant shifting of the repayment date arbitrarily meant that services were forced to speed up and slow down, creating confusion and wasting a lot of resources,” Buchanan said.