Announcement Comes After Advocates, Lawmakers and Members of Federal Rulemaking Panel Urge Department to Hold a Fourth Negotiated Rulemaking Session to Properly Address Student Loan Hardship
January 31, 2024 | WASHINGTON, D.C. — Following a chorus of calls, according to reporting from USA Today, the U.S. Department of Education (the Department) announced today that it will be convening 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.
This announcement comes on the heels of calls from members of both chambers of Congress, and more than 65 organizations representing millions of students, workers, people of color, veterans, and people with disabilities, and most recently, from negotiators from the Department’s student debt relief rulemaking committee.
In response, Persis Yu, Deputy Executive Director at Student Borrower Protection Center (SBPC), issued the following statement:
“We applaud the Biden Administration for once again heeding the calls of student loan borrowers and coming back to the negotiating table to ensure that all borrowers who are experiencing hardship are able to benefit from the President’s program.
“Last year, when the Supreme Court callously robbed millions of working families of debt relief, President Biden stood with borrowers and assured them that he remained in the fight to cancel student debt using every remaining tool available. Today’s announcement marks an important step forward in delivering on that promise and will help ensure that the millions of borrowers crushed under the weight of student loan debt also have the chance for economic freedom from this crisis.”
A copy of the letter from negotiators is available here: https://nylag.org/wp-content/uploads/2024/01/2024.01.30-Letter-from-Negotiators-Fourth-Session.pdf
A copy of the letter to Secretary Cardona sent by lawmakers is available here:
A copy of the letter to Secretary Cardona sent by 67 organizations is available here: bit.ly/Letter_ED_Neg-Reg-Session-4_01-18-2024
Late last year, a team of economists and law scholars affiliated with the University of California’s Student Loan Law Initiative (UC SLLI) published new research demonstrating that student debt causes widespread hardship for borrowers and recommending executive action to deliver student debt relief for tens of millions of people. Also this week, the University of California’s Student Loan Law Initiative (UC SLLI) published a new legal analysis demonstrating that the Secretary of Education has the authority under the Higher Education Act to implement a series of actions to deliver relief for tens of millions of people experiencing hardship caused by student debt. Together, these economists and law scholars demonstrate how the Secretary of Education can provide lawful, sweeping student debt relief.
SBPC also released a blog underscoring the need for President Biden’s new debt relief effort to include a plan to support borrowers experiencing hardship and highlighting this new research that can inform an economically and legally sound effort that would provide relief for millions.
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.