So WTF is going on with student loans?

Biden’s been sending some signals that he’s willing to cancel some debt — but it’s unclear how much.

Shutterstock

Just about everyone agrees student loans are a huge problem in the U.S.

Photo by Paul Morigi/Getty Images for We The 45 Million

$1.6 trillion

The total amount of student loan debt in the U.S. About 40 million Americans have student loan debt, most of which is owed to the federal government.

Education Data Initiative

Since assuming office in 2021, President Biden has taken a piecemeal approach to the debt crisis, not only extending the ongoing pause on student loan payments started in the early months of the COVID pandemic, but also:

- overhauling the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program,

- expanding criteria for loan forgiveness for students who have been defrauded,

- and broadening loan discharges for people with “total and permanent” disabilities.

Bryan Olin Dozier/NurPhoto/Shutterstock

All told, the Biden administration has canceled about $17 billion in student loan debt already — more than any other president in history.

But that’s just a fraction of the nearly $2 trillion dollars owed in total.

Paul Morigi/Getty Images Entertainment/Getty Images
Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc./Getty Images

Recently, the White House began hinting that further student loan cancelation could still happen on or before the Aug. 31 deadline for payments to resume.

Still, the president cautioned that he’s not looking at canceling up to $50,000 per borrower — an announcement that sparked immediate backlash.

Of course, Republicans are not happy about any of this.

BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images

But canceling student loan debt isn’t just an economic issue.

It’s a racial justice one too. Black families, and especially Black women, are impacted by student loan debt at a disproportionately higher rate than other demographics. Accordingly, canceling student debt could help narrow the racial wealth gap.

Minnesota Rep. Ilhan Omar has been among the progressives leading the charge for at least “some sort of relief.”

Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images News/Getty Images

Meanwhile, with the Aug. 31 deadline looming, more than half of student loan recipients say they couldn’t immediately restart payments even if they wanted to.

Photo by STEFANI REYNOLDS/AFP via Getty Images

Do you have a student loan horror story or thoughts on debt cancelation?

Tell us! Email kimberly.alters@mic.com with your pitches or tips.