Biden administration reviewing whether it could forgive student debt by executive action

Lawmakers call on President Biden to cancel student debt.
(Image credit: Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

For the first time, the White House on Thursday indicated the Biden administration is looking into using executive action to cancel at least some student debt.

"The president continues to support the canceling of student debt to bring relief to students and families," White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki tweeted. "Our team is reviewing whether there are any steps he can take through executive action, and he would welcome the opportunity to sign a bill sent to him by Congress."

About 43 million Americans owe $1.6 trillion in federal loans, and after he was elected, President Biden said his economic recovery plan would include canceling at least $10,000 in student loan debt. His $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief proposal does not cancel education debt, and Biden has pushed Congress to pass legislation on the matter. While Biden has used executive action to extend the pause on federal student loan interest, he has also questioned if he has the authority to write off loans all together.

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Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), and Rep. Ayanna Pressley (D-Mass.) all believe he does, and on Thursday they reintroduced a resolution from December asking Biden to cancel up to $50,000 in debt for all federal student loan borrowers. "There is very little that the president could do with a flick of a pen that would boost our economy more than canceling $50,000 in student debt," Schumer told reporters. "This is one of those things the president can do on his own."

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Catherine Garcia

Catherine Garcia is night editor for Her writing and reporting has appeared in Entertainment Weekly and, The New York Times, The Book of Jezebel, and other publications. A Southern California native, Catherine is a graduate of the University of Redlands and the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism.