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Biden’s Education Dept. just laid out its priorities for student-loan relief — they’re vague


Joe Biden

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From fighting the climate crisis to strengthening protections against racial discrimination, President Joe Biden’s regulatory agenda released on Friday covers a lot of ground. Significantly, unlike his budget, it even mentions student-loan forgiveness. But for borrowers waiting for clarity on what will happen to their debt loads, the details are scanty.

The list of regulatory actions, typically released twice a year, outlines how Biden plans to advance his agenda through each federal agency.

According to the Education Department’s page, Biden’s agenda includes “improving student loan cancellation authorities” in which Education Secretary Miguel Cardona will “amend regulations to improve borrower eligibility, application requirements and processes” for borrowers who meet loan cancellation criteria like being totally and permanently disabled, or attending a recently closed school.

The department also said it would review the Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) program and “plans to look at these regulations for improvements,” along with amending the “borrower defense to repayment,” which forgives loans for students who were defrauded by for-profit schools. 

The department plans to finalize the rules by April 2022.

“The last four years offered a clear lesson on what happens when the executive branch fails to uphold its responsibility to protect the American people,” Sharon Block, acting administrator of the White House regulations office, said in a statement. “Our first regulatory agenda demonstrates our commitment to reversing this trend.”

At the end of May, the Education Department announced it was beginning the process of issuing new higher-education regulations, and the Friday list affirmed those plans. But no further detail was provided on what the mentioned improvements would look like.

This could be because the department is in the early stages of rulemaking. The first step of the process will be through holding hearings in June to receive feedback on student loan forgiveness programs, and after the hearings in June, there will be “negotiated rulemaking,” during which stakeholders meet with the department to review proposed regulations, and it could take a year or longer until changes are implemented. 

But borrowers and lawmakers are growing frustrated with the timeline for giving eligible borrowers student-loan forgiveness. 

Biden campaigned on reforming PSLF, which allows government and nonprofit employees with federally backed student loans to apply for loan forgiveness after proof of 120 monthly payments under a qualifying repayment plan.

However, flaws in the program have been ongoing for years. 98% of borrowers have been rejected from the program, prompting 56 Democrats to urge Cardona to fix the program in early May, and Education Secretary Betsy DeVos was sued multiple times over the program’s high denial rate.

Borrowers had similar issues with the borrower defense to repayment. Over the past decade, several for-profit schools have shut down over investigations claiming the schools engaged in fraudulent behavior related to federal loans, leading President Barack Obama to establish the program to forgive student debt for eligible defrauded borrowers.

Under Obama, the program had a 99.2% approval rate, but when DeVos took over, 99.4% …read more

Source:: Business Insider

      

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