President Joe Biden could make his announcement on student loan forgiveness as soon as Wednesday, five sources with knowledge of the matter told NBC News.
Administration officials repeatedly said the decision would come before the end of August, when monthly loan payments are scheduled to resume after being paused for over two years as part of a pandemic-era relief policy.
Though the White House insists no final decision has been made, three sources told NBC that the president is expected to extend the pause on student loan debt payments for several months while forgiving loans up to $10,000 for those with yearly incomes of less than $125,000.
The country’s outstanding student loan debt balance exceeds $1.7 trillion, with 40 million Americans in debt for their education. Before the Covid pandemic, when the economy was in one of its healthiest periods, some 10 million borrowers were still behind on their payments.
Since the campaign trail, Biden has put his support behind $10,000 in student loan forgiveness, while his competitors to the left, Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., and Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., vowed to cancel more. Warren pledged to cancel $50,000 for most borrowers and Sanders, to eliminate all of the debt.
Biden is now under intense pressure to cancel more then $10,000, including from groups like the NAACP and lawmakers such as Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y. Wisdom Cole, national director of the NAACP’s youth and college division, recently said on Twitter that nixing just $10,000 would be “a slap in the face.”
At the same time, sweeping student loan forgiveness will also likely anger some Americans, including those who never borrowed for their education or went to college. Several Republicans have said they will try to block an effort by the president to cancel the debt. Rep. Kevin Brady, R-Texas, ranking member on the House Ways and Means Committee, recently called student loan forgiveness “a giveaway to highly educated college grads.”
Overall, though, the majority of voters (62%) support student loan forgiveness, according to a poll by Morning Consult.
White House officials did not immediately respond to a request for comment.