Congressman David N. Cicilline (RI-01), author of the Making College More Affordable Act, today highlighted a new Department of Education report that estimates 133,900 borrowers in Rhode Island are eligible for the Biden Administration’s student debt relief plan. President Biden last month announced that the federal government will deliver up to $20,000 in debt relief for Pell Grant recipients and up to $10,000 for non-Pell borrowers. Information for borrowers is available from the Department of Education here.
“President Biden’s plan is a step in the right direction, providing much needed relief to Rhode Islanders who are facing the burden of student loans,” said Congressman Cicilline. “In Rhode Island alone, 133,900 borrowers are now eligible for this historic targeted relief. Democrats continue to be the party that fights for increasing our investment in education at every level, from K-12, to trades school programs, to community colleges and public universities like URI. Democrats know that we must invest in our workforce if we are to stay competitive internationally and fight inequality by growing the middle class domestically.”
This past April, Congressman Cicilline was joined by 113 Members in urging the Appropriations Committee to double the Pell Grant award and index it to inflation. This year’s omnibus funding legislation increased the maximum Pell Grant by $400, an important step towards ensuring that the higher education opportunities afforded to more than 80 million students over the last 50 years can continue for generations to come.
In August, the Congressman introduced the Making College More Affordable Act, legislation that will help Rhode Islanders and young people across the country access a college education by addressing the root causes of the student debt crisis.
The Biden Administration’s plan is committed to an equitable framework, as seen by nearly 90 percent of relief dollars in this program being delivered to Americans who make less than $75,000 per year. No relief is going to the top 5 percent of earners. By targeting relief to those who need it the most, this effort is also helping to narrow the economic inequalities found too often in our country, including the racial wealth gap. Pell Grant recipients make up nearly 71 percent of Black undergraduate borrowers and 65 percent of Latino undergraduate borrowers.
In addition to debt relief, the Biden Administration also announced several steps to reform our broken student loan repayment system. These changes will hold schools accountable who excessively hike up their prices, expand the Public Student Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) Program, and cap monthly payments for borrowers based on their income. Additionally, the Department of Education will now cover a borrower’s unpaid monthly interest, meaning that borrowers on income-driven repayment plans will no longer have to worry about their balance continuing to grow despite making their monthly payments.
President Biden’s action builds on Congressional Democrats’ ongoing efforts to expand access to higher education. Democrats’ American Rescue Plan invested nearly $40 billion to help colleges and universities keep down costs and support students – including substantial funding for Minority Serving Institutions. The recently-enacted CHIPS and Science Act delivered historic funding to strengthen STEM education in Rhode Island.
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