Biden’s second try at student loan cancellation moves forward with debate

President Joe Biden’s second attempt at student loan cancellation began moving forward Tuesday with a round of hearings to negotiate the details of a new plan.

In a process known as negotiated rulemaking, 14 people chosen by the Biden administration are meeting for the first of three hearings on student loan relief. Their goal is to guide the Education Department toward a proposal after the Supreme Court rejected Biden’s first plan in June.

The negotiators all come from outside the federal government and represent a range of viewpoints on student loans. The panel includes students and officials from a range of colleges, along with loan servicers, state officials and advocates including the NAACP.

In opening remarks, Under Secretary of Education James Kvaal said the student debt crisis has threatened to undercut the promise of higher education.

“Student loan debt in this country has grown so large that it siphons off the benefits of college for many students,” Kvaal said in prepared remarks. “Some loans made to young adults stretch into retirement with no hope of being repaid. These debt burdens are shared by families and communities.”

Biden directed the Education Department to find another path to loan relief after the conservative court ruled that he couldn’t cancel loans using a 2003 law called the HEROES Act.

The latest attempt will rest on a sweeping law known as the Higher Education Act, which gives the education secretary authority to waive student loans — although how far that power extends is the subject of legal debate. The department is going through the negotiated rulemaking process to change or add federal rules clarifying how the secretary can cancel debt.
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