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Reports Collection At All Costs: Unlocking Cancellation for Incarcerated Borrowers

Collection At All Costs: Unlocking Cancellation for Incarcerated Borrowers

This report analyzes the results of the Student Borrower Protection Center’s (SBPC) groundbreaking investigation into the federal student loan debt burden shouldered by incarcerated borrowers enrolled in Higher Education in Prison (HEP) programs. The report is accompanied by SBPC’s first lawsuit against the U.S. Department of Education (the Department) for illegally withholding critical information about its treatment of incarcerated borrowers and the scope of the student debt crisis facing these borrowers. 

Advocates have long suspected that correctional facilities’ communication restrictions and limited income-earning opportunities make it particularly difficult for incarcerated borrowers to navigate the student loan system. This suspicion is consistent with SBPC’s investigation, which revealed that an alarming 100 percent of the incarcerated borrowers enrolled in the examined HEP programs are currently in default and ineligible for the Pell Grant. Our analysis also revealed that over 90 percent of these borrowers owe less than $20,000 and could see their student loan debt completely wiped out by President Biden’s student loan cancellation plan. 

Upon examining the conditions of cancellation and the limitations of the student loan system, the report concludes that automatic and systematic cancellation of federal student loan debt is the only viable path out of default and over many roadblocks to successful community reentry for incarcerated borrowers. These findings underscore the urgent need to hold the Department accountable for withholding information that would aid advocates seeking relief for borrowers stuck at the intersection of the student loan and criminal legal systems.

Read the report: Collection At All Costs: Unlocking Cancellation for Incarcerated Borrowers

Read the complaint: SBPC v. U.S. Department of Education

Read the press release: New Report Reveals Cancellation is Only Viable Path Forward for Incarcerated Student Loan Borrowers

Learn more about President Biden’s student debt cancellation plan here.

Learn more about the myriad challenges facing incarcerated student loan borrowers: Collection At All Costs: Examining the Intersection of Mass Incarceration and the Student Debt Crisis

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