With student loan forgiveness halted, White House says 685K Virginia borrowers eligible for relief – Virginia Mercury

As the U.S. Supreme Court prepares to consider the legality of President Joe Biden’s student loan forgiveness program, the White House on Friday released data showing 685,000 borrowers in Virginia applied or were automatically eligible for debt relief. 

Of those, 429,000 applications were approved by the U.S. Department of Education and sent to loan servicers for discharge before legal challenges halted the process. 

Last August, Biden announced a sweeping plan to cancel some student debt and extend the suspension on repayment instituted at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

How many Virginians no longer qualify for student loan relief? It’s hard to say.

Under the program, eligible borrowers could have up to $20,000 in student loan debt canceled. The relief would be available to those who earn less than $125,000 per year or married couples or heads of households who earn less than $250,000 per year.

Pell Grant recipients would be eligible for up to $20,000 in debt relief. Non-Pell recipients would be eligible for up to $10,000.

However, in November, legal challenges led the department to stop receiving applications. The case was appealed to the Supreme Court. Oral arguments are scheduled to begin in February. 

“Student loan debt relief is blocked,” the program’s webpage states. “Courts have issued orders blocking our student debt relief program. As a result, at this time, we are not accepting applications. We are seeking to overturn those orders.”

In a statement accompanying its release of state data on eligible borrowers, the White House said “millions of those borrowers could be experiencing the benefits of that relief today – were it not for lawsuits brought on by elected officials in some of their own states.”

This September Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin joined almost two dozen other Republican governors in calling for Biden to scrap the plan. Youngkin’s spokesperson told VPM that his signature was added to the letter after it was drafted.

The governors stated in their letter that only 16 to 17% of Americans have federal student loan debt, and the president’s plan will have “a regressive impact” by requiring that their debts be redistributed and paid for by other taxpayers.

“As governors, we support making higher education more affordable and accessible for students in our states, but we fundamentally oppose your plan to force American taxpayers to pay off the student loan debt of an elite few—a plan that is estimated to cost the American taxpayer more than $2,000 each or $600 billion total, a price the people of our states cannot afford,” the letter states.


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