student loans

The U.S. Department of Education says it will erase the federal student loan debts of tens of thousands of borrowers who can no longer work because they have significant disabilities. It's a small but important step toward improving a shambolic, bureaucratic process for hundreds of thousands of vulnerable borrowers who are legally entitled to debt relief, but haven't received it.

The U.S. Department of Education announced Thursday it is scrapping a controversial formula, championed by former Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, that granted only partial student loan relief to borrowers who were defrauded by private, for-profit colleges. It will instead adopt what it's calling a "streamlined approach" for granting borrowers full relief.

ALLISON MOLLENKAMP / HARVEST PUBLIC MEDIA FILE PHOTO

Plenty of younger people are eager to build careers in farming, but more land up for grabs won’t necessarily make it easier to get started. Access to land and capital are two of the biggest hurdles facing first-generation farmers today, and some say they face an extra barrier to both — student loan debt.

Shortly after Election Day last year, veteran Sen. Chuck Schumer of New York joined three newly elected House Democrats in their call for incoming President Biden to use his executive authority to cancel up to $50,000 in student loan debt.

"I have spoken to him. I have told him how important it is. He is considering it," Schumer said at a New York press conference with then-Reps.-elect Mondaire Jones, Ritchie Torres and Jamaal Bowman. Months earlier, Schumer had backed Bowman's primary opponent, longtime incumbent Rep. Eliot Engel.

"We're here today, in the midst of one of the most challenging school years in American history," Miguel Cardona said in opening remarks to the Senate education committee on Wednesday. "For far too many of our students, this year has piled on crisis after crisis. As a parent, and as an educator, I have lived those challenges alongside millions of families."

President Biden has called reopening schools a "national emergency" and said he wants to see most K-12 schools in the United States open during his first 100 days in office, which would be between now and April.

Education Secretary Betsy DeVos announced Friday that pandemic relief for about 41 million federal student loan borrowers will continue until Jan. 31.

Student loan debt in the U.S. totals around $1.7 trillion — more than debt on cars or credit cards.

During the coronavirus pandemic, payments on federal loans were temporarily halted until January 2021. President-elect Joe Biden has said his administration would support some kind of student loan forgiveness.

President-elect Joe Biden has affirmed his support for erasing some student debt "immediately."

Student debt forgiveness was a major campaign plank of some of his more progressive rivals for the Democratic nomination, but it remains controversial even among some Democrats.

With the eyes of the country upon him, Joe Biden shouted out education during his speech Saturday in Wilmington, Del: "For American educators, this is a great day for you all. You're going to have one of your own in the White House."

Of course, the president-elect was talking about his wife, Jill Biden, an English professor at Northern Virginia Community College. She taught throughout Biden's two terms as vice president, and in a break with precedent, intends to continue as first lady.

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