(NEXSTAR) — Under the Biden administration, roughly $17 billion in federal student loan debt has been canceled for some 725,000 borrowers. While that may seem like a lot, it actually equates to about 1% of the $1.6 trillion in federal student debt Americans have. But new reports say President Biden may be gearing up to change that.
During his campaign, Biden supported forgiving $10,000 per federal borrower. Some Democrats are calling for $50,000 per borrower, while many others are asking for a completely clean slate for those with student loan debt. Pressure is mounting as the end of the payment moratorium — set to expire on August 31 — and midterm elections near.
In a private meeting with House Democrats this week, Biden reportedly “gave strong indications” that his administration is preparing to take executive action on forgiving student loans in the coming months, The Washington Post and CBS report. While speaking with the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, Biden laid out his plans, according to reports. The CHC has not yet responded to Nexstar’s request for comment.
Within that meeting, Biden said he was reviewing the appropriate legal option, Rep. Tony Cárdenas (D-CA) said during an interview. Cárdenas added that Biden expressed his belief that he has the power to take some sort of action regarding student loan forgiveness.
There has been confusion surrounding whether Biden does actually have that power. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has said he lacks legal authority instead of commenting, “That would be an act of Congress.” Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, on the other hand, has argued Biden could do it under the same legal provision Trump used to delay payments and interest accrual at the start of the pandemic, The Hill reports.
According to The Hill, Biden requested a memo from the Department of Education on his authority to forgive student debt through an executive order a year ago, but the administration hasn’t announced whether that memo is complete.
White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki reiterated that Biden “would make a decision about any cancellation of student debt before the conclusion of the pause on student loans” during a press briefing Monday.
So far, the Biden administration has approved roughly $17 billion in student loan forgiveness for multiple reasons, including changes to “long-standing failures in the student loan programs.”