By Anna Helhoski | NerdWallet
A limited waiver announced by the U.S. Department of Education is expected to immediately wipe the slate clean for 22,000 student borrowers seeking Public Service Loan Forgiveness and speed the process for at least 500,000 more.
It’s not the broad student loan forgiveness borrowers may be dreaming of. Instead, it’s the latest example of the Biden administration’s strategy of tackling student loan debt through existing programs.
“The Biden administration has committed to an overhaul of the student loans system and how it functions — whether the programs are easy access and whether people can get forgiveness — and I think this is an important step forward on that path,” says Sarah Sattelmeyer, project director of education, opportunity and mobility in the higher education initiative at New America, a public policy think tank.
Neither President Joe Biden nor Congress has committed to forgiving loans en masse despite calls to do so from prominent Democrats, state officials and consumer rights advocacy groups.
But since the start of Biden’s term, the Department of Education estimates that more than $11.5 billion in loans have been canceled for over 580,000 borrowers through updates to existing forgiveness programs.
The department is clearing backlogs of applications from borrowers who were defrauded by their schools, faced school closures before attaining a degree and have permanent disabilities — now, that list also includes those…