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New York Attorney General calling on Secretary of Education to address student loan debt

Letitia James
Posted at 2:02 PM, Mar 31, 2021
and last updated 2021-03-31 23:48:50-04

NEW YORK (WKBW) — New York Attorney General Letitia James along with attorneys general from 22 other states are calling on U.S. Secretary of Education Dr. Miguel Cardona to further address student loan debt.

In a letter to the education secretary, James and the other attorneys general are calling on Dr. Cardona and his administration to address the following

  • Continuing the policy of suspending student loan payments and waiving interest for as long as necessary to support struggling borrowers;
  • Continuing the policy of suspending involuntary collections activities, as well as authorizing suspended payments to count towards both the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program and income-driven repayment (IDR) plan forgiveness;
  • Enacting reforms so that student loan borrowers are able to access and remain in IDR plans to which they are entitled — enabling borrowers to have more affordable monthly payments, to avoid the serious consequences of default, and to secure loan forgiveness when appropriate; and
  • Enforcing the gainful employment requirement of the Higher Education Act, which would shield borrowers from for-profit programs that fail to prepare students for careers.

“With more than $1.7 trillion in student debt owed by students across the country, now is the time for us to take bold action to end this crisis and provide our students with the tools they need to move forward,” said Attorney General James. “We need to make attaining a higher education more accessible and that begins with affordability. Imagine what could be achieved without the heavy burden of student loan debt. I encourage the Biden-Harris Administration to keep all options on the table, including loan cancellation.”

President Joe Biden supports canceling $10,000 of debt. Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and others support canceling $50,000. The Biden administration said it's looking at whether he has the authority to use an executive order.

"The President can do it with a flick of a pen, you don’t need legislation, and we’re urging him to do it,” Schumer said.

Monthly federal student loan payments are paused due to the pandemic.

“That’s a part of why I think we haven’t seen a huge rush on passing any sort of student loan forgiveness proposal because there is sort of that lifeline still existing there for borrowers,” said Andrew Pentis, a Senior Writer at Student Loan Hero by Lending Tree.

The pause is through September and could be extended. Pentis doesn't think the President will act before then because it's a divisive issue for both borrowers and experts.

“You have experts who are saying mass student loan forgiveness in a non-targeted way is a government handout," Pentis said.

He said some borrowers who already paid off their loans wonder why they won't receive benefits from a forgiveness plan.

According to data from Student Loan Hero, the average monthly student loan payment in Erie County is $250. Schumer said people will put that extra money back into the economy.

According to Student Loan Hero, $10,000 loan forgiveness would cancel all federal debt for one in three borrowers.

You can read the full letter by clicking here.