Biden administration forgives student loans for 78,000 more public service workers

Higher education should be "a ticket to the middle class," the president said.

March 21, 2024, 5:00 AM

President Joe Biden announced on Thursday that about 78,000 public service workers will have $5.8 billion in federal student loan debt forgiven by his administration.

The borrowers, which include teachers, nurses, firefighters and others enrolled in the Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) program, have "dedicated their careers to serving their communities," Biden said in a statement.

The debt cancellations will bring his administration's total forgiveness to about $144 billion for nearly 4 million Americans, according to the White House.

"From day one of my Administration, I promised to fix broken student loan programs and make sure higher education is a ticket to the middle class, not a barrier to opportunity," Biden said.

He added, "I won't back down from using every tool at my disposal to deliver student debt relief to more Americans, and build an economy from the middle out and bottom up."

The student loan forgiveness announced on Thursday brings the administration's total cancellations for public service workers to 870,000, Biden said. That's up from only about 7,000 such borrowers "ever receiving forgiveness prior to my Administration," he added.

"And through all of our various student debt relief actions, nearly four million Americans have had their student debt cancelled under my Administration," he said.

Officials said the total amount of student loan cancellation issued by Biden so far is more than $143 billion.

President Joe Biden speaks, as he announces a preliminary agreement with Intel for a major CHIPS and Science Act award, during a visit to the Intel Ocotillo Campus, in Chandler, Arizona, U.S., March 20, 2024.
Kevin Lamarque/Reuters

The Public Service Loan Forgiveness program allows for debt forgiveness for people in jobs like firefighting, nursing and teaching after 10 years of continuous payment.

The Biden administration has made fixes to this program that had failed to deliver student loan relief to many due to poor implementations and errors in the program, officials have said.

The Biden administration will also send email notifications to 380,000 borrowers who are within two years of getting their loans forgiven through PSLF, to encourage them to stick with their payments.

According to officials, 140,000 borrowers are on track to get this same forgiveness in less than a year.

There are 240,000 borrowers on track to have loan forgiveness in the next two years who will receive a similar email noting their timeline.

Biden had earlier attempted a sweeping form of federal student loan cancellation -- totaling an estimated $400 billion for 43 million people. But the U.S. Supreme Court rejected that as outside the scope of his authority.