Three Democratic Senators have called for an investigation into a student loan cancellation program found not to be living up to its promise.
There are 9 million borrowers currently enrolled in income-driven repayment (IDR) plans, which are designed to help people who cannot afford to make large monthly payments. Those plans promise loan cancellation after 20-25 years.
In 2021, documents revealed that 4.4 million borrowers had been repaying for at least 20 years but only 32 had had loans canceled under IDR.
Under IDR, a monthly payment of $0 for a borrower earning less than 150% of the federal poverty line should still count toward loan cancellation. But NPR obtained a previously unreleased 2016 review of servicers, conducted by the Education Department’s office of Federal Student Aid, in which officials warned these $0 IDR payments “are not adequately tracked.”
Nearly half of all IDR borrowers are making $0 payments, and documents show they are not properly tracked, derailing or delaying their loan cancellations.
Sen. Sherrod Brown of Ohio, Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts and Sen. Dick Durbin of Illinois signed onto a letter sent to Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) calling for an investigation into loan recipients receiving the loan forgiveness they deserve.
Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona received a similar letter, asking for a waiver to allow recipients to access the loan forgiveness they were promised.