- The Washington Times - Thursday, August 19, 2021

Education Secretary Miguel Cardona on Tuesday forgave another $5.8 billion in student debt, announcing the department is forgiving the loans of more than 323 borrowers who have total and permanent disabilities.

The Biden administration had already canceled about $3 billion in student loans. Thursday’s move more than doubles the amount to $8.7 billion in taxpayer-funded loans being written off.

The left, however, said they want more. 

“Grateful that the Biden Administration has formally recognized its authority to cancel student debt. He must now do this for everyone,” Rep. Mondaire Jones, New York Democrat, tweeted moments after the announcement.

“Great news! Even greater news would be if ALL student debt was canceled,” tweeted Our Turn, a liberal youth activist group.

Senate Majority Leader Charles E. Schumer, New York Democrat, and Sen. Elizabeth Warren, Massachusetts Democrat, have repeatedly called on Mr. Biden to knock $50,000 off the debt of all student borrowers.

“This is a great step,” Mr. Schumer tweeted. “And now we need to go further.”

Mr. Biden has questioned whether he has the power to do that and sought the advice of the Justice Department. Mr. Cardona told reporters Tuesday that discussions with the White House and the Justice Department are continuing.

Instead, Mr. Cardona forgave the loans of select groups of people, such as people who have disabilities. He also canceled $1.5 billion in debt for nearly 92,000 borrowers who had been defrauded by for-profit colleges.

People with total and permanent disabilities had already been able to apply for loans to be forgiven. Not all eligible borrowers took advantage of the debt-forgiveness program. Many who did later had their debt reinstated if they failed to submit paperwork every year showing that they are still disabled.

Mr. Cardona said disabled borrowers will now not have to apply and will no longer face having their loans reinstated. The department will use Social Security Administration data to identify those who qualify for disability assistance and wipe away their debt.

“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,” Mr. Cardona said. “We’ve heard loud and clear from borrowers with disabilities and advocates about the need for this change and we are excited to follow through on it. This change reduces red tape intending to make the process as simple as possible for borrowers who need support.”

The Biden administration this month also told borrowers they will not have to resume making payments on their student loans until Jan. 31. The Trump administration had given the borrowers a break on making payments during the COVID-19 pandemic but the moratorium was due to end Sept. 30.

The top Republicans on the Senate and House education committees, however, had urged Mr. Cardona not to give the extension. Reps. Virginia Foxx and Sen. Richard Burr, both North Carolina Republicans, wrote to Mr. Cardona in June saying the pause on student loan payments had already cost taxpayers $40 billion.

Vaccinations were increasing and more jobs were available, they wrote. “Another extension of the temporary pandemic student loan benefit would be unnecessary and actively work against the interests of students and taxpayers,” they said.

• Kery Murakami can be reached at kmurakami@washingtontimes.com.

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