In a significant move, the Biden administration has announced an accelerated schedule for canceling student loans for certain borrowers under the new SAVE repayment plan. Initially set to commence in July, the process will now begin as early as February, offering prompt relief to eligible borrowers. President Biden emphasized this step as part of his commitment to reduce the burden of student debt.
The criteria for loan cancellation under this plan include enrollment in the SAVE plan, an original borrowing of $12,000 or less for college, and a minimum of 10 years of payments made. The exact number of beneficiaries in the February rollout is yet to be determined. The plan, announced alongside a broader loan forgiveness initiative last year, has managed to avoid the intense legal challenges that led to the Supreme Court blocking a more extensive loan forgiveness plan.
The SAVE plan stands out for its generous terms compared to previous income-driven repayment options. For example, while older plans required 20 to 25 years of payments for loan forgiveness, the SAVE plan shortens this period to just 10 years. Additionally, for every $1,000 borrowed above the $12,000 mark, an extra year of payments is added, with the maximum period capped at 20 years for undergraduate loans and 25 years for graduate loans.
This initiative aims to provide significant relief, especially to community college students, by setting them on a quicker path to becoming debt-free. However, it has faced criticism from Republicans who argue it unfairly benefits wealthier individuals with college degrees at the expense of taxpayers without college education.
Starting next month, eligible borrowers enrolled in the SAVE plan will see their loan balances automatically cleared. The Education Department plans to reach out to potentially eligible borrowers who haven’t enrolled yet. Other components of the plan, like reducing the cap on borrowers’ payments to 5% of their discretionary income, are set to take effect in July.
Concurrently, the Biden administration is exploring alternative paths for wider loan cancellation following the legal obstacles encountered with its initial plan. The Education Department is working on a revised proposal aimed at providing targeted relief to specific groups of borrowers.