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The claim: The Biden administration has decided to cancel $0 in student debt
As the debate over student loan cancellation continues, social media posts surfaced claiming President Joe Biden won't follow through on his campaign promise to act on student debt.
“Biden just dropped student debt cancellation down to zero. That’s right, the Biden administration has decided to cancel $0 in student debt,” reads a May 24 tweet from the Gravel Institute, a nonprofit organization named after former Alaska Sen. Mike Gravel.
A screenshot of the tweet was shared to Instagram on July 5 in a post with more than 3,000 likes. A response above the tweet reads: “why did I vote for him.”
USA TODAY reached out to the Instagram user for comment.
The Gravel Institute did not return a request for comment, but when a Twitter user asked for evidence, the account pointed to a Forbes article headlined, "Biden Drops Student Loan Forgiveness From Latest Budget."
Biden administration exploring options for canceling student loans
Biden’s budget proposal did not include student loan forgiveness, but that does not mean he decided to cancel nothing in student debt.
A subsequent tweet from the Gravel Institute says student loan forgiveness wasn’t included in Biden’s budget proposal because Congress won’t pass it, but “nothing is stopping him” from signing an executive order to cancel student debt himself.
In April, Biden asked Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona to prepare a memo looking into a president’s authority to cancel federal student loans through executive action.
Even if the Department of Education says Biden has the legal power to forgive broad student loan debt, it is unclear whether he would do it and what the amount of forgiveness would be. In a February CNN town hall, Biden said, “I will not make that happen,” when asked about the idea of $50,000 in forgiveness per student.
Similarly, in a May interview with The New York Times, Biden said, “The idea that you go to Penn and you’re paying a total of 70,000 bucks a year and the public should pay for that? I don’t agree.”
Biden has instead stated that he would like Congress to take action and supports forgiveness of up to $10,000 in federal student loan debt per borrower.
"That’s something Congress could take an action on and he’d be happy to sign," White House press secretary Jen Psaki said in March 30 briefing. "We’re still taking a closer look at our options on student loans."
The Department of Education has canceled student debt for borrowers with disabilities and for students who were victims of for-profit college fraud. The Biden administration has canceled a total of $1.5 billion in student loan debt.
On his first day in office, Biden also signed an executive order extending a pause on student federal loan payments during the COVID-19 pandemic through Sept. 30.
Our rating: False
The claim that the Biden administration has decided to cancel $0 in student debt is FALSE, based on our research. Biden's 2022 federal budget proposal did not include student loan cancellation, but that doesn't mean he decided to cancel nothing in student loan debt. Biden is still looking into forgiveness options, such as examining his authority to cancel student debt through executive action and calling on Congress to cancel up to $10,000 in debt for per borrower.
Our fact-check sources:
Office of Management and Budget, May 28, FACT SHEET: The President's Budget for Fiscal Year 2022
Office of Management and Budget, May 28, Budget of the U.S. government fiscal year 2022
Gravel Institute, May 24, Tweet
PolitiFact, June 14, Can student loan debt be canceled by a president's executive order?
White House press secretary Jen Psaki, Feb. 4, Tweet
The New York Times, May 20, Has Biden Changed? He Tells Us.
White House, March 30, Press Briefing by Press Secretary Jen Psaki, March 30, 2021
Forbes, July 9, Biden Has Now Cancelled $1.5 Billion Of Student Loans This Way
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This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Fact check: Joe Biden considering options for student debt forgiveness