President Joe Biden highlighted his administration’s student loan forgiveness achievements in his landmark State of the Union speech on Thursday.

The speech also effectively served as the President’s opening campaign speech. Biden and former President Trump shored up the support of their respective parties following the Super Tuesday primary contests earlier in the week.

Biden laid out his economic agenda in the often-fiery address to Congress. And while he was praising student loan relief for millions of borrowers, administration officials are actively working on new plans for debt relief.

Biden Highlights Student Loan Forgiveness In Address To Congress

Biden noted that under his administration, four million borrowers have received student loan forgiveness. Despite last summer’s Supreme Court ruling blocking Biden’s mass debt cancellation initiative, officials have managed to improve, tweak, or streamline existing loan forgiveness programs through regulatory and executive actions, expanding relief for many Americans.

“When I was told I couldn’t universally just change the way in which we dealt with student loans, I fixed two student loan programs that already existed to reduce the burden of student debt for nearly four million Americans, including nurses, firefighters and others in public service,” said Biden. He was primarily referring to significant fixes to the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program. Before Biden took office, the program had only several thousand approvals. Bur as of last month, nearly 800,000 borrowers have now received student loan forgiveness under the program.

Biden touted the broader economic benefits of loan forgiveness, seemingly to counter arguments made by critics that student debt relief is a burden on taxpayers. “Such relief is good for the economy because folks are now able to buy a home, start a business, start a family,” he said.

Biden Student Loan Forgiveness Initiatives Lead To Nearly $140 Billion In Debt Relief

The Biden administration’s targeted efforts to provide relief to borrowers by improving existing programs has yielded results, with nearly four million borrowers collectively receiving at least $138 billion in student loan forgiveness.

Major initiatives include fixes to Public Service Loan Forgiveness and Income-Driven Repayment, as well a new IDR plan called SAVE, which itself provides for faster loan forgiveness for some borrowers. The administration has also approved group discharges for borrowers defrauded by their schools, and removed barriers for borrowers seeking loan forgiveness on the basis of medical disabilities.

“The Biden Administration has now cancelled the most student loan debt in American history,” said Student Borrower Protection Center Executive Director Mike Pierce in a statement following President Biden’s speech. “Behind these numbers are real-life Americans whose lives have been changed for the better due to the Biden Administration’s efforts to tackle the student loan debt crisis.”

But Republican leaders in Congress continued to call out Biden’s student loan relief efforts as unfair and illegal.

“Americans are tired of the fallout brought about through this administration pushing an illegal student loan bailout scheme, failing to address antisemitism across college campuses, decimating Main Street America, threatening innovation in the health care marketplace, and peddling radical policies that incite ideological warfare in America’s classrooms,” said Education and the Workforce Committee Chairwoman Virginia Foxx (R-NC) in a statement prior to Biden’s speech.

Biden Pushes For More Student Loan Forgiveness And Economic Relief

The Biden administration is still implementing loan forgiveness initiatives (and some borrowers are still waiting to receive relief that’s already been approved). At the same time, the Education Department is moving forward to create a new pathway to loan forgiveness, including for those experiencing financial hardship. Final regulations for this new debt relief program are expected to be released this spring.

“The Biden Administration must move quickly to finalize and deliver his new relief plan to build on this progress,” said Pierce. “President Biden must make clear that he is not bowing out of the fight to deliver debt relief to as many borrowers as possible.”

In his State of the Union address, Biden touted his administration’s other economic achievements, including low unemployment and allowing Medicare to negotiate prescription drug prices. He also called for higher taxes on the wealthy and corporations, and a mortgage tax credit of $400 a month for two years to help first-time homebuyers.

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