Student debt to be eliminated for Americans with severe disabilities, but progressives demand more

Washington DC – The US Education Department announced on Thursday that it is canceling student debt for some Americans with permanent disabilities.

US Education Secretary Miguel Cardona
US Education Secretary Miguel Cardona  © IMAGO / NurPhoto

According to NPR, the decision will impact more than 323,000 Americans with a collective $5.8 billion in debt.

Many Americans with disabilities were already qualified for relief under a law that dates back to 1965, but a lot of those people didn't realize they were qualified to apply, NPR found.

Now, they will be automatically distributed to them a data match with the Social Security Administration.

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Qualifiers will also no longer have to submit proof of earnings, which caused many to have their loans reinstated amid a web of complicated rules and procedures.

"Today's action removes a major barrier that prevented far too many borrowers with disabilities from receiving the total and permanent disability discharges they are entitled to under the law," said US Education Secretary Miguel Cardona.

Progressives demand more sweeping changes

Massachusetts Rep. Ayanna Pressley
Massachusetts Rep. Ayanna Pressley  © IMAGO / ZUMA Wire

Though it is an important first step toward addressing the student debt crisis, progressives argue it isn't nearly enough.

Massachusetts Rep. Ayanna Pressley wrote on Twitter, "This is a long overdue step and a testament to the relentless organizing of our advocates. @POTUS must now use his executive authority to #CancelStudentDebt for all borrowers."

New York Rep. Mondaire Jones echoed similar sentiments, "Grateful that the Biden Administration has formally recognized its authority to cancel student debt. He must now do this for everyone."

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Briahna Joy Gray, a progressive political commentator and former National Press Secretary for the 2020 Bernie Sanders presidential campaign, retweeted Jones' remarks along with screenshots from a news article, which read, "Biden made campaign promises to cancel $10,000 in student debt per person and forgive debt for students from HBCUs and public colleges."

"As president, he has not yet followed through on either promise," the statements continued.

Earlier this year, Forbes found that student loan debt is now at a record high of around $1.7 trillion, affecting 45 million Americans. The situation has only gotten worse with the Covid-19 pandemic.

Cover photo: Collage: IMAGO / ZUMA Wire, IMAGO / NurPhoto

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