U.S. Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) today called on the Supreme Court to reject challenges to President Biden’s student loan debt relief program and allow much-needed relief to flow to tens of thousands of Rhode Islanders and their families.
“Student debt is an anchor holding down borrowers and their families, and the President’s debt relief program would free up thousands of Rhode Islanders to buy homes, start families, and invest in their own children’s education,” said Whitehouse. “The Supreme Court should reject these political challenges, which are keeping families in financial limbo.”
Rhode Island college graduates of the class of 2020 graduated with an average student loan burden of $44,576. Last year, President Biden unveiled a plan to forgive up to $10,000 in federal student loans for Americans earning less than $125,000 a year, and up to $20,000 for Pell Grant recipients.
Whitehouse’s latest effort comes after new data released by the U.S. Department of Education showed that 96,000 Rhode Islanders – and over 25 million Americans – applied or were deemed automatically eligible for debt relief during the four weeks the program was in operation. Applications for over 63,000 Rhode Islanders were fully approved and sent to loan servicers for discharge before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit halted the program in November, leaving applicants in limbo. Two cases challenging President Biden’s program are scheduled for oral arguments before the Supreme Court later this month.
Whitehouse has long championed legislation to help Americans pay off their student loans. Since hearing from early applicants caught in the Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) Program bureaucracy several years ago, Whitehouse has doggedly pursued fixes to the program and worked to help constituents navigate the application process.
Last June, Whitehouse introduced the Simplifying and Strengthening PSLF Act to streamline and improve the program. In addition to making the Biden Administration’s waiver permanent, the Simplifying and Strengthening PSLF Act would reduce the number of payments needed to qualify for PSLF loan forgiveness from 120 payments over 10 years to 60 payments over 5 years while working for an eligible employer. Whitehouse has also introduced the Zero-Percent Student Loan Refinancing Act, which would allow Americans to refinance their federal student loans at a zero percent interest rate.
Rhode Islanders navigating the student loan debt relief application process should contact Senator Whitehouse’s office at 401-453-5294 for assistance.
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