President Joe Biden said Friday that 22 million Americans applied for federal student loan relief during the first full week the debt forgiveness application was online, as his administration fends off legal battles attempting to halt the program.
The 22 million figure represents more than half the 43 million borrowers the White House estimates to be eligible for relief.
The loan application formally opened Monday following a beta test over the weekend, offering $10,000 in federal student debt relief to borrowers making less than $125,000 a year and $20,000 in relief for those borrowers who received Pell Grants.
Biden announced the number during a speech at Delaware State University on Friday, where he slammed Republicans who have criticized the student loan forgiveness plan yet had the Covid-era Paycheck Protection Program loans forgiven under the CARES Act.
“Who the hell do they think they are?” Biden said of Republicans who had PPP loans forgiven, specifically identifying Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) among them. PPP loans were largely distributed with the intent of being forgiven, but studies have shown most of the loans went toward enriching recipients, rather than worker salaries.
What To Watch For
Loan cancellations for some could come as early as Sunday
The most significant legal challenges to the program died with a whimper Thursday, with conservative Supreme Court Justice Amy Coney Barrett striking down an emergency request from a Wisconsin group asking to block the program and a federal district judge dismissing a lawsuit filed by six Republican state attorneys general. Republicans have made several legal arguments to claim Biden’s plan is illegal, generally alleging the president’s move was an abuse of power. The Biden Administration has fired back against that allegation, noting the Education Secretary is allowed to modify student loans during periods of national emergency, such as the Covid-19 pandemic. Mandatory federal student loan repayments are scheduled to resume in January.