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Your Questions About Biden’s Student Loan Relief, Answered

Late last month, President Biden announced a sweeping effort to forgive federal student loan debt—up to $20,000 for Pell Grant recipients and up to $10,000 for others who qualify. Nearly 45% of borrowers, almost 20 million people, would have their debt fully canceled, according to the White House.

NPR recently broke down what Biden’s student loan announcement means and what every borrower should know about it.


Biden’s plan will provide relief to nearly 43 million borrowers, and completely erase student debt for about 20 million.

Borrowers are eligible for up to $10,000 in forgiveness if their individual income (adjusted gross income from 2020 or 2021 tax year) is under $125,000 per year. For married couples, the income limit is $250,000.

Borrowers who received Pell Grants are eligible for additional relief—up to $20,000.


Most borrowers will need to submit an application to verify their income. If you already have income information on file with the Department of Education, however, your debt should be canceled automatically.

Still, the timeline for borrowers without income information on file has yet to be announced.

“That’s the million-dollar question,” Education Secretary Miguel Cardona tells NPR. “We’re improving a system that was broken and antiquated.”

If you don’t have income information on file, be sure to visit the Federal Student Aid website and sign up for automatic email updates.


Part of Biden’s announcement includes a redesign of income-driven repayment (IDR) plans, which help people who cannot afford to make large monthly payments.

“Biden’s IDR plan will cut the amount borrowers have to contribute each month – from 10% of their discretionary income to 5%,” according to NPR. “It will also raise the amount of income that is considered non-discretionary, thus providing more assistance.”

Dominique Baker, an associate professor of education policy at Southern Methodist University, says these changes to IDR could bring long-term benefits to borrowers down the road.

“When we talk about needing large-scale reform of the student loan system, this would be one of those things,” she says. “This is a good first step.”

Sources: NPR, The White House

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