Millions of federal student loan borrowers learn that their applications for debt forgiveness have been approved.
The Ministry of Education sent a first wave of emails to some borrowers on Saturday, informing them that their application for student loan forgiveness for up to $20,000 in debt forgiveness was approved while providing an update on the status of the program amid a wave of legal setbacks.
“We have reviewed your application and determined that you are eligible for loan relief under the Plan. We have forwarded this approval to your loan manager. You do not need to take any further action,” wrote Education Secretary Miguel Cardona in the email.
Cardona added that the department “will discharge your approved debt if and when we prevail in court.”
What does the approval email actually mean?
Emails to borrowers began going out a day after the Biden administration asked the Supreme Court to reinvigorate its sweeping student loan forgiveness plan. The program was suspended after being blocked by federal courts in two separate lawsuits. Court orders prohibit the Ministry of Education from paying anyone’s debt at this time.
The Supreme Court has yet to decide whether to hear the Biden administration’s appeal.
In the mass email to borrowers, Cardona said the department believes the lawsuits are “without merit” and pledged to fight for the borrowers.
Before the program was blocked by the courts, shutting down the application portal, the Department of Education said around 26 million borrowers had applied and 16 million had been approved. Emails are sent to these 16 million approved candidates in waves.
“Don’t worry if you don’t get an email today – more are coming”, Cardona tweeted Saturday.
The emails are primarily an administrative effort to keep applicants informed amid a dizzying array of legal developments. They don’t change anything for borrowers at this time, because the debt can only be canceled if the Biden administration wins in court. So for now, tens of millions of borrowers remain in limbo after the expected forgiveness schedule collapsed.
According to the original schedule, no less than 20 million student borrowers expected to have their loan balances completely wiped out thanks to President Joe Biden’s pardon plan before the end of the year. But instead, they are now faced with the return of monthly payments as the pause on federal student loan payments – which has been running for almost three years – is due to expire on January 1, 2023.
The impending expiration and uncertainty surrounding Biden’s pardon plan has led supporters to pressure the president to extend the payment break for an eighth time.
“Throwing millions of borrowers back into repayment while the status of debt relief remains uncertain is a recipe for disaster and will lead to widespread confusion and drive borrowers to failure,” a coalition of over 200 defense groups. written in a letter to Biden In Monday.