White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre held a news briefing Wednesday afternoon following President Joe Biden’s announcement that his administration will cancel student debt for some borrowers.
Watch the briefing in the player above.
Biden announced his long-awaited plan earlier on Wednesday, delivering on a campaign promise to provide $10,000 in student debt cancellation for millions of Americans — and up to $10,000 more for those with the greatest financial need — along with new measures to lower the burden of repayment for their remaining federal student debt.
Borrowers who earn less than $125,000 a year, or families earning less than $250,000, would be eligible for the $10,000 loan forgiveness, Biden announced in a tweet. For recipients of Pell Grants, which are reserved for undergraduates with the most significant financial need, the federal government would cancel up to an additional $10,000 in federal loan debt.
“Both of these targeted actions are for families who need it the most: working and middle class people hit especially hard during the pandemic,” Biden said in remarks at the White House Wednesday afternoon.
READ MORE: What we know about Biden’s student loan debt forgiveness plan
Biden is also extending a pause on federal student loan payments for what he called the “final time” through the end of 2022. He was set to deliver remarks Wednesday afternoon at the White House to unveil his proposal to the public.
If his plan survives legal challenges that are almost certain to come, it could offer a windfall to a swath of the nation in the run-up to this fall’s midterm elections. More than 43 million people have federal student debt, with an average balance of $37,667, according to federal data. Nearly a third of borrowers owe less than $10,000, and about half owe less than $20,000. The White House estimates that Biden’s announcement would erase the federal student debt of about 20 million people.
“That’s 20 million people who can start getting on with their lives,” Biden said. “All this means, people can start to finally crawl out from under that mountain of debt. To get on top of their rent and utilities. To finally think about buying a home or starting a family or starting a business.”
Proponents say cancellation will narrow the racial wealth gap — Black students are more likely to borrow federal student loans and at higher amounts than others. Four years after earning bachelor’s degrees, Black borrowers owe an average of nearly $25,000 more than their white peers, according to a Brookings Institution study.
The action drew praise from a wide spectrum of Democrats, but appeared unlikely to completely appease any of the factions that have been jostling for influence as Biden weighs how much to cancel and for whom.