“This step particularly protects 800,000 borrowers who are at risk of having their tax refunds seized,” Psaki said at a White House briefing.
The pause on collections covers loans made as part of the Federal Family Education Loan Program. It does not apply to borrowers who are not in default.
But Biden, who has said he would support canceling $10,000 per borrower, has repeatedly argued that the government shouldn’t forgive debt for people who went to “Harvard and Yale and Penn.” He’s also indicated that he believes Congress should make changes through legislation, which would make them harder to undo, though Psaki said Tuesday that the White House is “still taking a closer look at our options on student loans.”
“This includes examining the authorities we have, the existing loan forgiveness programs that are clearly not working as well as they should,” Psaki said.
Psaki continued: “This includes borrower defense, total and permanent disability charges, there’s a lot of steps we’re looking at and we’ll continue to review those and be in touch of course with Leader Schumer about our process.”
The department already has some more targeted debt cancellation policies in place. It wipes away debt for defrauded students as well as disabled veterans. Biden could provide relief for hundreds of thousands of more borrowers just by expanding those programs, according to the National Student Legal Defense Network.
And the administration earlier this month reversed a controversial Trump-era policy that will lead to the cancellation of roughly $1 billion in student debt for borrowers who were defrauded by their colleges.
Last week, the administration waived a paperwork requirement during the pandemic for disabled borrowers to receive approval for loan forgiveness. But advocates say much more could be done to help these borrowers, like automatically discharging their debt.