Student Loans
September 23, 2021
Will borrowers’ debts be forgiven?

The 45 million Americans who owe $1.7 trillion in college loans face uncertainty well into next year, as Congress and the White House wrangle over if, when and how borrowers will have to pay their debts. Payments for federal student loans — paused for nearly two years due to the COVID-19 pandemic — are set to resume on Feb. 1 after a “final extension” granted by the Biden administration. It is unclear whether President Biden will waive student debt more broadly through executive action and, if so, how much he might strike off borrowers’ tabs. The Department of Education is modifying various loan forgiveness programs to provide some debt relief to borrowers, while states and colleges also are providing aid.

Photo of three supporters of student loan debt cancellation displaying a banner near the White House on June 15, 2021. Three supporters of student loan debt cancellation display a banner near the White House on June 15. Some 45 million Americans owe $1.7 trillion in college loans. (Getty Images/Paul Morigi)

Since taking office in January, President Biden has canceled $9.5 billion in student loans for more than 563,000 borrowers. That is only a small fraction of the $1.7 trillion owed. 1 But Biden is considering or has taken other measures to provide additional student relief. The key actions include: