The US Department of Education has cancelled $1.6 billion in student loans for thousands of students who were victims of for-profit college fraud since President Joe Biden took office, the agency said Friday (July 9). Nearly 92,000 students have had their loans forgiven so far under the Biden administration CNN reported.
The DOE added in its announcement that it’s cancelling $55.6 million is being cancelled for students who attended the now-defunct Westwood College, Marinello Schools of Beauty or the Court Reporting Institute. This latest cancellation comes a month after the DOE said it was cancelling the student debt of 18,000 former ITT Tech students totalling $500 million.
The Biden administration cancelled the debt as it works to address a backlog of over 100,000 forgiveness claims left over by Donald Trump’s administration. Under former Secretary Betsy DeVos’ leadership, 73,000 students who were eligible for the forgiveness program only received partial loan forgiveness after she changed the cancellation requirements.
The debt cancellation program, known as the Borrower Defense, gives students who were defrauded by their school an opportunity to get debt relief and was streamlined under former President Barack Obama when major for-profit colleges like Corinthian and ITT Tech closed their doors.
As Education Secretary Miguel Cardona and President Biden push loan forgiveness, some lawmakers are calling for more broad loan forgiveness. Sen. Elizabeth Warren has long championed cancelling $50,000 per borrower across the board. Biden has also asked Cardona to write a memo on the ability of a president to cancel debt through executive action.
A recent study shows Black women hold a disproportionate amount of student loan debt, amplifying calls for debt cancellation for student borrowers amid conversations of the wealth gap, child care crisis, home ownership lag, and reparations.
The pause on federal student loan payments put in place during the pandemic is set to end in October.