Biden officially launches application for student loan forgiveness

President Joe Biden officially launched the request for student loan relief on Monday, after the test version of the site went live over the weekend – a long-awaited first step to fulfilling one of his campaign promises a few weeks just before the midterm elections.

“Today marks one big step among many that my administration is taking to make education a ticket to the middle class,” Biden said.

“A new student loan application is now open. If you have federal student debt, please visit student aid.gov. It’s easy, simple and fast. And it’s a new day for millions of Americans across our country,” he said.

U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona watches President Joe Biden deliver remarks on the beta test of the Student Debt Relief Portal, in the South Court Auditorium of the Executive Office Building of ‘Eisenhower in Washington, October 17, 2022.

Brendan Smialowski/AFP via Getty Images

Education Secretary Miguel Cardona said after Monday’s briefing that more than 8 million borrowers had already applied for loan forgiveness through the “beta” – or test – version of the app, launched on Friday.

The rollout is a long-awaited move to fulfill Biden’s announcement in August that people with student loans earning less than $125,000 can apply for up to $10,000 in debt relief, or up to $20. $000 for eligible borrowers who were also Pell Grant recipients.

According to a department spokesperson, borrowers who submitted their applications for the student debt relief program during the beta testing period will not need to reapply now that the application is officially launched.

“As millions of people fill out the application. We’re going to make sure the system continues to work as well as possible so we can deliver student loan relief to millions of Americans as quickly and as efficiently as possible,” Biden said on Monday.

“My commitment was that if elected president, I would make government work for the people. This deployment delivers on that commitment, just as I deliver on my commitment to student debt relief as borrowers recover from this economic crisis caused by the once-in-a-lifetime pandemic.”

Biden also acknowledged Republicans seeking to block the new relief.

“Biden’s bailout not only unfairly punishes Americans, it’s a political loser for Democrats in November. gas, sky-high grocery bills and tax hikes,” Republican National Committee spokesman Nathan Brand said in a statement after Biden’s announcement on Monday.

The policy has been repeatedly challenged in court, largely by conservative organizations and states that argue the Biden administration doesn’t have the power to write off student loan debt — it’s up to Congress. to decide.

“Republican members of Congress, Republican governors are trying everything they can to deny this achievement, even to their own constituents. As soon as I announced my administration’s student debt plan, they started attacking it saying all kinds of things. Their outrage is fake, and it’s hypocritical,” he said.

So far, none of the lawsuits have halted the program, which the Biden administration says has a solid legal footing under the HEROES Act — a law that grants broader-than-usual authority to the secretary. to education during times of emergency, such as COVID. Biden said it was his administration’s legal judgment that the relief program would not be blocked.

Biden noted that many GOP members who opposed the policy have benefited from other COVID-related relief programs, like the Paycheck Protection Program or U.S. Bailout Loans.

“As soon as I announced my administration’s student debt plan, they started attacking it, saying all kinds of things. Their outrage is fake, and it’s hypocritical. I will never apologize for d ‘helping American workers and middle-class people as they recover from the pandemic,’ he continued.

“I don’t want to hear anymore about Republican officials, who heard who had hundreds of thousands of dollars, maybe even millions of dollars in pandemic relief loans, PPP loans, but are now going after the job that middle-class Americans get relief,” Biden said.

PHOTO: President Joe Biden talks about the Student Debt Relief Portal beta test as Education Secretary Miguel Cardona listens in the South Court auditorium of the White House complex in Washington, October 17 2022.

President Joe Biden speaks about the Student Debt Relief Portal beta test as Education Secretary Miguel Cardona listens in the South Court auditorium of the White House complex in Washington, October 17 2022.

Susan Walsh/AP

The federal student loan relief plan will cost $400 billion over 10 years, according to a revised late-September estimate from the Congressional Budget Office, which is a lower number than a forward outside estimate.

“In total, more than 40 million Americans are eligible for this aid, and about 90% – 90% of this aid will go to people earning less than $75,000 a year,” Biden said. “Let’s be clear: not a penny will go to those in the top 5% of the income bracket. Period.”

Biden said Monday the country is “on track” to cut the federal deficit by $1 trillion this fiscal year, while cutting it by another $300 billion over the next 10 years due to a provision of the Inflation Reduction Act that allows Medicaid to now negotiate drug prices with companies.

“We are able to afford this student loan relief,” Biden said. “It’s because of our historic deficit reduction that Republicans voted against it.”

He also said there will be federal revenue from borrowers who don’t qualify for the loan forgiveness program who will have to start repaying their loans when the payment pause ends in January. “That means billions of dollars a year will start flowing into the US Treasury,” Biden said.

“My administration’s plan is economically responsible.”

ABC News’ Mariam Khan contributed to this report.

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