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The Breathtaking Scale of Forgiven Student Loan Debt

Posted on Tuesday, August 15, 2023
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by Outside Contributor
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Student Loan Debt money with graduation cap

Yesterday I updated AEI’s Student Debt Forgiveness Tracker to incorporate new data from the Department of Education on Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) in April, May, and July. The tracker total now sits at an incredible $317 billion. With more forgiveness from current sources already in the works, and new sources of forgiveness planned by the Biden administration, there are three simple takeaways from this updated total.

The first takeaway is that this $317 billion total is not some future prediction, it is the forgiveness that has already gone out. The tracker collects federal student debt forgiveness as it occurs, and tallies cumulating forgiveness over both the Trump and Biden administrations. This enormous total is hard to conceptualize, but it is more than a third of last year’s US military spending, and well over triple the amount the federal government spends on education. To capture this amount in spatial terms, imagine a stack of $100 bills stretching 26.2 miles, the length of a marathon. Now imagine seven more, and you are closing in on $317 billion.

Forgone Federal Student Loan Revenue by Category

The second takeaway is that, despite what many might have assumed after Biden’s marquee forgiveness proposal was defeated at the Supreme Court, more forgiveness is in the works. The Biden administration announced last month that in the coming weeks, another $39 billion in forgiveness would come from a one-time Income Driven Repayment account adjustment. (That measure is already the subject of a lawsuit.) Hundreds of billions in expected forgiveness could come over the next 10 years from Biden’s proposed SAVE repayment plan, which substantially alters the terms of income driven repayment. And the administration continues a doubtful push to get a blanket cancellation like the one the court ruled against, but to do it through a different legal authority. While $317 billion is a huge sum, the administration is pushing for more full steam ahead.

The third takeaway is that we are at risk of becoming desensitized to these enormous forgiveness amounts. This week’s mid-month update came from updated forgiveness from PSLF. The average amount forgiven in the updated numbers was an astonishing $73,400 for nearly 170,000 borrowers. In June, the last month reported, over $500 million was forgiven through PSLF. Half a billion is a great deal of money, but in the scope of loan forgiveness, it’s a shrug. That $500M only accounts for 4 percent of PSLF forgiveness from the last quarter, and about 1 percent of PSLF captured in the tracker, and less than 0.2 percent of the tracker total.

Putting all these points together paints the debt forgiveness project in sharp relief. It is a real expression of the old saw, “Half a billion here, half a billion there, and pretty soon you are talking about real money.” Pretty soon, we will be talking a third of a trillion dollars, and the Biden administration is pushing for more.

Reprinted with Permission from AEI.org by Nat Malkus

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Pm
Pm
10 months ago

That’s how you buy votes.

anna hubert
anna hubert
10 months ago

Easy to be grandiose with the taxpayer money Not so generous when it came to his own grand daughter and his own money which he got by criminal activity

Jackie
Jackie
10 months ago

I’m disgusted with the constant liberal giveaways!! I don’t have enough money to last me much less pay for someone else’s college education especially when the colleges don’t educate, they indoctrinate!! If Joe wants to give money out of his own very deep pockets then that’s fine!!! But he won’t, his money is his and our money is his!!! Such an arrogant, selfish, corrupt, cruel criminal, Joe is!!

nance
nance
10 months ago

What ever happened to personal responsibility? Count the cost before you take out the loan, work your way through or take a few classes at a time. There are options!

Rik
Rik
10 months ago

The “forgiving” of personal debt on such a massive scale is BRIBERY plain and simple for VOTERS and is also a great example of the STUPIDITY of what makes up today’s so-called Democratic Party members!

Kim
Kim
10 months ago

This makes my blood boil…

Thomas olszewski
Thomas olszewski
10 months ago

The government should not be in the business of lending money….

Tony
Tony
10 months ago

The hate I have for these people is immeasurable and I mean the Biden Administration. Here we are in a tenuous financial position as a nation due to trillions of dollars printed (hence the downgrade of the countries status) and these dumb morons just keep screwing all the middle class with more giveaways…it is so disgusting it makes me sick to my stomach????

cathy
cathy
10 months ago

I would like to see money returned to my daughter for responsibly paying off her student loan!

Robert Zuccaro
Robert Zuccaro
10 months ago

I paid my Sallie Mae loan in 2012, so do I get a REFUND? Probably not because it was just a certificate for motorcycle mechanic not triple dog masters degree in liberal arts.

Shirley
Shirley
10 months ago

I thought the supreme court told Biden to stop this giving away our money.

Melinda
Melinda
10 months ago

Money loaned = debt owed. The government cannot “forgive” a debt, not legally. But when did the Biden administration do anything legally?

Carla Butler
Carla Butler
10 months ago

This man needs to be removed and charged with treason against the country.

Robin W Boyd
Robin W Boyd
9 months ago

Can we really put a price on paying for votes? Evidently, Progressive Democrats can. Since it’s money provided by hard working American citizens, they don’t care how much it costs to bribe citizens to vote for them.

Charlie
Charlie
10 months ago

Shouldn’t there be voting by the people for delegating or spending our money? When did O’Biden become King so he could make decisions n steal our money?

Terry Brinker
Terry Brinker
10 months ago

This is vote buying plain and simple.

PapaYEC
PapaYEC
10 months ago

Imagine the hidden kickback to the DNC and top Marxist Rat hidden accounts.

Sue
Sue
10 months ago

Stop the interest on the loans. Maybe the colleges and universities should make sure that the charges they are inflicting on the student are reasonable and not inflated.

Marty Hass
Marty Hass
10 months ago

Shouldn’t this money just “trickle down” from the people not paying? It’s still 1/3rd of what the military gets. What’s the issue with people having extra money to spend per month to buy a house, invest, buy things? Isn’t that just fueling the economy and leading to economic growth? Couldn’t someone just make the grandiose and hyperbole claims on the other side?

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