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biden meets with white house staff to discuss astudent debt relief

President Biden meets with White House staff in 2021 to discuss student debt relief. | The White House

August 29, 2022

Biden Cancels Student Debt for Millions of Americans

Ask Students: When did the federal government freeze student loan repayments, and why? Who is eligible for student loan forgiveness (debt relief) under Biden’s plan?

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President Joe Biden on Wednesday announced his long-awaited plan on student debt. Borrowers making less than $125,000 a year will be eligible for $10,000 in federal loan forgiveness. That goes up to $20,000 for those with the greatest need. The move addresses part of the $1.6 trillion in federal loans held by 45 million Americans. Biden also extended a pause on loan payments through the end of this year. For a transcript of this story, click here.

Key Terms

Executive order — A formal action taken by a president without Congressional involvement. Presidents have some powers to take these actions, though new laws or spending in most cases need to be passed or approved by Congress.

Pell grants — Federal money provided to students that doesn’t need to be paid back (unlike loans). Pell grants are awarded to students who demonstrate substantial financial need.

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Discussion Questions

  • When did the federal government freeze student loan repayments, and why?
  • Who is is eligible for student loan forgiveness (debt relief) under Biden’s plan?
  • What does Biden’s executive action on debt relief actually do?
  • Why is the Biden administration cancelling student debt without an act of Congress?
  • How is Biden’s decision being criticized?

Focus Questions

What do you think are the pros and cons of cancelling federal student debt loans through executive action?

Media literacy: Was it clear from this piece who is eligible for relief under the new order? If not, how could you find out more?

Republished with permission from PBS NewsHour Classrom.

PBS NewsHour Classroom helps teachers and students identify the who, what, where and why-it-matters of the major national and international news stories.

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