The Biden administration announced Thursday (August 19) it will be automatically canceling the student loan debt of Americans living with severe disabilities. According to The Associated Press, nearly 323,000 borrowers will have $5.8 billion in student debt cleared by the action.
The US Department of Education said this cancelation is the first of a major overhaul to address long-standing, restrictive rules.
“We’ve heard loud and clear from borrowers with disabilities and advocates about the need for this change and we are excited to follow through on it,” Education Secretary Miguel Cardona said in a statement, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported.
Under current rules, to qualify for debt relief the federal government requires borrowers who are “totally and permanently disabled” must go through a three-year monitoring period proving they make low wages. Some borrowers were kicked off the relief program for failing to submit proof of income.
The Department is also planning to eliminate the three-year income monitoring rule in October.
“This is going to be a smooth process for our borrowers,” Cardona told reporters in a call. “They’re not going to have to be applying for it or getting bogged down by paperwork.”
Of all student borrowers, Black women carry is a disproportionate burden of student debt, studies have shown.