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Media Press Releases 60+ Organizations Urge the Department of Education to Finish the Job and Deliver on President Biden’s Promise to Cancel Student Debt

60+ Organizations Urge the Department of Education to Finish the Job and Deliver on President Biden’s Promise to Cancel Student Debt

Civil Rights, Labor, and Borrower Advocacy Groups Representing Millions Urge Department to Hold a Fourth Negotiated Rulemaking Session to Properly Establish a Rule to Support Borrowers Experiencing Hardship

January 18, 2024 | WASHINGTON, D.C. — 67 organizations representing millions of students, workers, people of color, veterans, people with disabilities, and consumers sent a letter today urging the U.S. Department of Education (ED) to convene a fourth session of the Student Loan Debt Relief negotiated rulemaking to ensure the Department can develop a robust rule to provide relief to millions of student loan borrowers experiencing hardship.

A full copy of the letter is available here:

Although ED produced regulation text on four of the five issues discussed during the negotiations, negotiations on President Biden’s debt relief proposals concluded without regulatory text on its plan to support student loan borrowers experiencing hardship. The letter explains:

“Failing to finalize a proposal to provide relief for borrowers experiencing hardship would result in millions of borrowers—including most recent graduates, many low-income borrowers, borrowers of color, and borrowers with disabilities—being left out of the necessary debt relief. This cannot be an option.” 

The groups, led by Young Invincibles and Student Borrower Protection Center (SBPC), go on further to implore ED to not allow bureaucracy to serve as a barrier to desperately needed relief for the American people:

“The Department must establish a fourth negotiated rulemaking session and present its proposal to the Committee so President Biden can keep his promise…The Department cannot wait until it is too late; it must act now and establish a fourth rulemaking session to ensure the promise of student debt cancellation happens swiftly as we embark upon a new year.”

In addition to the letter, SBPC also released a blog today underscoring the need for President Biden’s new debt relief effort to include a plan to support borrowers experiencing hardship and highlighting new research that can inform an economically and legally sound effort that would provide relief for millions.

“When the Supreme Court callously robbed millions of working families of relief, President Biden stood with borrowers and assured them that he remained in the fight to cancel student debt using every remaining tool available. The Department has made commendable progress thus far in advancing proposals that will provide targeted relief,” said Mike Pierce, Executive Director at SBPC. “However, failing to advance a proposal to also address the immense hardship associated with crushing student loan debt will undoubtedly leave millions of borrowers behind. The Department has an obligation to come back to the table and present plans to provide the relief that President Biden promised to the American people.” 

“Borrowers have been continuously let down by the failed attempts to cancel student debt, leaving them frustrated and disheartened. While the Department of Education has made significant strides to redress the harm done by a broken student loan system, establishing a negotiated rulemaking process was meant to finally deliver the widespread debt relief that President Biden has promised,” said Kristin McGuire, Executive Director of Young Invincibles. “It is imperative that the Department of Education immediately establish a fourth session for the Student Loan Debt Relief negotiated rulemaking to finish the job. We must continue this process until the hardships created by student debt are addressed, and this relief is delivered.”

The letter signers include: Young Invincibles, SBPC, Student Debt Crisis Center, National Consumer Law Center, NAACP, National Education Association, Center for Law and Social Policy, Generation Hope, National Association of Social Workers, National Association of Consumer Bankruptcy Attorneys, National Association of Student Loan Lawyers, We the 45 Million, New York Legal Assistance Group, Western Massachusetts Area Labor Federation, AFL-CIO, New Georgia Project, The Debt Collective, The Century Foundation Higher Education Team, Public Citizen, RISE, Swipe Out Hunger, Public Justice Center, Campaign for America’s Future, National Disability Institute, Washington Anti-Hunger & Nutrition Coalition, National Consumers League, Women Advancing Nutrition Dietetics and Agriculture, Women Employed, National Action Network, Autistic Women & Nonbinary Network, American Federation of Teachers, University of California Student Association, Center for American Progress, National Coalition for the Homeless, GRACE/End Child Poverty California, Ohio Student Association, Council on Social Work Education, The Education Trust, American Association of University Women, Americans for Financial Reform, Consumer Reports, National Legal Aid & Defender Association, Oregon Student Association, Council for Adult and Experiential Learning, American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees, MDC, Student Loan Fund, Fosterus, American Psychological Association Services, NCNW, Center for First-generation Student Success, Equity for All, Inc, Formerly Incarcerated College Graduates Network, Hip Hop Caucus, National Women’s Law Center, Service Employees International Union (SEIU), Alliance for Justice, COWRIE Initiative, Center for Responsible Lending, Association of Latino Administrators and Superintendents (ALAS), The Institute for College Access & Success (TICAS), National Urban League, Arizona Students’ Association, Association of Legal Aid Attorneys (UAW Local 2325), AFL-CIO, UnidosUS, Jain Family Institute, and NextGen California.


Within hours of the U.S. Supreme Court’s ideological decision to strike down the Biden Administration’s original debt relief plan, President Biden announced that he would utilize a different tool—the Higher Education Act—and enact a new debt relief program through the process known as negotiated rulemaking.

Last fall, ED formally kicked off the negotiated rulemaking process, reaching consensus on several proposals that would provide targeted relief to borrowers in certain circumstances, such as borrowers who have been paying off their loans for more than two decades, borrowers who have been defrauded by their schools, borrowers who may be eligible for various cancellation programs but have not yet applied and borrowers whose balances have ballooned due to runaway interest. In recognition of the need for a broader category of debt relief, ED requested ideas from negotiators on ways they could support borrowers experiencing hardship as a result of their student loan debt. 

Despite negotiators working in good faith to provide proposals to ED and outside student loan experts appearing before the committee to share a groundbreaking analysis of how this can be done, ED failed to present a proposal in time before the conclusion of the third session. As required under the Higher Education Act, proposals must be presented before the negotiated rulemaking committee in order for them to be considered in the final Notice for Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM).


About Student Borrower Protection Center

Student Borrower Protection Center (SBPC) is a nonprofit organization focused on eliminating the burden of student debt for millions of Americans. We engage in advocacy, policymaking, and litigation strategy to rein in industry abuses, protect borrowers’ rights, and advance racial and economic justice.

Learn more at or follow SBPC on Twitter @theSBPC.

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