Despite being told by policy experts and fellow Democratic leaders including then-House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) that he did not have the authority to implement such a policy, President Joe Biden nonetheless announced last year that millions of Americans would have their college student loans either fully or partially forgiven.
The move was widely seen as an effort to pander to voters ahead of a midterm election, and after the U.S. Supreme Court struck down the plan, Biden was even asked by a reporter to respond to borrowers who felt he had given them “false hope.”
“I believe the court’s decision to strike down my student debt relief program was a mistake,” he said in June. “I’m not going to stop fighting to deliver borrowers what they need, particularly those at the bottom end of the economic scale. So we need to find a new way.”
Nevertheless, loan repayment deferment ended this week and interest began acruing once again following a pause initially implemented in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Although borrowers are now on the hook to pay back their loans, the Education Department has indicated that it is looking for ways to offer lower monthly payments, longer grace periods, and other forms of assistance.
“We recognize that the return to repayment mandated by Congress may cause significant financial challenges for many borrowers, many of whose lives may have changed since the last time they made a student loan payment, or this may be the very first time making a payment,” the agency stated.
— Ayelet Sheffey (@arsheffey) August 29, 2023
While student loan borrowers continue to hold out hope that the Biden administration will somehow make their debt disappear, many other Americans — including those who paid off their loans or opted not to attend college — are upset that one type of debt is receiving preferential treatment from the government.
Pelosi even addressed the issue when she made her 2021 declaration that the president cannot unilaterally forgive student loans.
“Suppose your … child just decided they at this time did not want to go to college, but you’re paying taxes to forgive somebody else’s obligations,” she said at the time. “You may not be happy about that.”