President Joe Biden said Thursday his administration is weeks away from making a decision on canceling student loan debt for millions of Americans, but also signaled it was unlikely he would cancel as much debt as some progressives have hoped.
“I am considering dealing with some debt reduction. I am not considering $50,000 debt reduction,” Biden said in response to questions from reporters. “I’m in the process of taking a hard look at whether or not there will be additional debt forgiveness and I’ll have an answer on that in the next couple of weeks.”
Biden has repeatedly extended a pandemic-era pause on federal student loan payments, most recently until August 1. During his presidential campaign, he endorsed legislation canceling $10,000 worth of student loan debt.
But his administration has long downplayed the chances of cancelling student loan debt en masse via unilateral presidential action, refusing to say whether they believed it was legal. And while some congressional Democrats, led by Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), have pushed for up to $50,000 in debt cancellation, Biden has previously said it was “unlikely” he would back a significant cancellation.
The NAACP ― which has pushed for student debt cancellation as a way to close the racial wealth gap ― quickly released a statement demanding Biden cancel all student loan debt.
“We agree that we shouldn’t cancel $50,000 in student loan debt. We should cancel all of it. $50,000 was just the bottom line,” said Wisdom Cole, the national director of the group’s youth and college division. “For the Black community, who’ve accumulated debt over generations of oppression, anything less is unacceptable.”
About 40 million Americans hold a total of $1.7 trillion in student loan debt.