5:02 P.M. EST
MODERATOR:  (In progress.) …efforts to cancel student debt.
As a reminder, the contents of this call and the materials you all received over email are embargoed until 5:00 a.m. Eastern tomorrow.  We will share embargoed materials again at the end of this call with those who RSVP’d.
We will begin with on-the-record remarks from Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona and White House Deputy Chief of Staff Natalie Quillian.  After their remarks, we will begin a question-and-answer period, which will be on background and attributable to “senior administration officials.”
With that, Secretary Cardona, I will turn it over to you.
SECRETARY CARDONA:  Thank you, Angelo.  And thank all of you for being with us.
From day one of President Biden’s administration, we’ve been fighting to fix a broken student loan system.  That’s why we launched the most affordable income-driven repayment plan in history: the SAVE Plan.
This plan reflects our unapologetic commitment to deliver as much relief as possible to as many borrowers as possible as quickly as possible.  And the progress we’re announcing today demonstrates not only that we’re making good on that commitment, but we’re doing so ahead of schedule.  
In January, we announced that we’d be implementing a special benefit of the SAVE Plan nearly six months early to automatically forgive the loans of borrowers who took out smaller loans for college after as few as 10 years of paying back those loans.  Now, I’m excited to announced that we’ll start automatically forgiving $1.2 billion for over 150,000 borrowers who are eligible.
That brings the total student debt relief approved by this administration to nearly $138 billion for nearly 3.9 million borrowers.  These are historic efforts that reflect the President’s commitment, again, to deliver as much relief as possible to as many borrowers as possible as quickly as possible. 
We also now have 7.5 million Americans enrolled in SAVE.  4.3 million of them now have monthly payments of zero dollars.  This is truly a lifeline for borrowers. 
The people getting the debt relief announced today have sacrificed and saved for a decade or more to make their student loan payments, have lower loan balances, and are more likely to have qualified for Pell Grants to attend college.  Many SAVE forgiveness recipients come from lower- and middle-income backgrounds.  Many took out loans to attend community colleges.  Some were at high risk for delinquency and default.  That’s why the actions we’re announcing today do matter. 
The bottom line is this: We’re providing real, immediate breathing room from an unacceptable reality where student loan payments compete with basic needs, like putting food on the table and accessing healthcare. 
For borrowers who are not yet at full debt forgiveness, SAVE is still providing them with real help today.  It already protects more income from loan payments, and it ensures borrowers won’t have to worry about runaway interest and exploding loan balances, giving them additional peace of mind.
It bears repeating: SAVE is already our most affordable income-driven repayment plan in history. 
Student borrowers can sign up today at StudentAid.gov/SAVE.  The Department will continue to identify borrowers who qualify for debt forgiveness and discharge loans regularly.  And we’re going to be emailing borrowers who are eligible for forgiveness if they switch onto the SAVE Plan.
Look, I’m proud of what we’re doing to fix a broken student loan system.  And we’re just getting started.
We won’t accept a broken system where too many people are locked out of opportunity, where too many default on their student loans each year, where cost makes starting and finishing higher education feel impossible.  We won’t stop fighting to deliver more relief and open doors of opportunity to more Americans more quickly.
And with that, I’ll turn it over to a colleague at the White House who is also a staunch supporter of fixing a broken loan sys- — system and opening up access to higher education, the President’s Deputy Chief of Staff, Natalie Quillian.
MS. QUILLIAN:  Thank you, Secretary.  And thank you for all of your leadership. 
Thanks, everyone, for being with us this afternoon.
As the Secretary said, this announcement is a reflection of the President’s commitment to cancel student debt for as many Americans as possible as quickly as possible.  This announcement will provide essential breathing room for 153,000 borrowers and their families, totaling $1.2 billion in student loan debt canceled starting this week.
When President Biden came into office, he vowed to fix a broken student loan system and make sure higher education was a pathway to the middle class, not a barrier to opportunity.  And over the last three years, President Biden has canceled more student debt than any president in history.
And through more than two dozen executive actions, this administration has approved nearly $138 billion in student debt cancelation for nearly 3.9 million Americans.  Those actions include fixing the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program so nearly 800,000 nurses, firefighters, teachers, and more have gotten their debt canceled through the program.  Before President Biden took office, only 7,000 individuals had ever seen forgiveness through PSLF. 
It also inclu- — includes holding colleges accountable for defrauding their students and providing relief to over 9- — 930,000 borrowers who have been in repayment for over 20 years but never got the relief they earned through income-driven repayment plans.
These actions have allowed nearly 4 million people to afford other expenses in their lives: buy homes, start businesses, pursue dreams that they had to put on hold because of their student loans.  Now, because of the President and the Biden-Harris administration, millions of borrowers and their families are no longer weighed down by the burden of student debt.
Last year, as you know, in the wake of the Supreme Court decision striking down the administration’s original student debt relief plan, President Biden promised he wouldn’t stop fighting to cancel student debt for as many borrowers as possible who need help.  That included pursuing an alternative path for student debt relief through negotiated rulemaking.  That’s a process which is currently underway.
And it also included implementing the SAVE Plan, the most affordable repayment plan in history.  And he tasked his team with implementing this as quickly as possible so as many borrowers as possible could benefit from the lower monthly payments or from early forgiveness benefits.
And as Secretary Cardona mentioned, we’re proud that our administration was able to implement forgiveness for low-balance borrowers enrolled in the SAVE Plan nearly six months ahead of schedule.  And for these 150,000 borrowers, that’s six months few- — six fewer months they have to make a monthly student loan payment.  And for many, it may mean six fewer months they need to make hard decisions between a monthly student loan payment and other expan- — expenses their families depend on.
Starting tomorrow, these 150,000 borrowers eli- — eligible for early relief will receive an email from President Biden notifying them that, in the coming days, their remaining student debt will be canceled because of his SAVE Plan.  And over the coming months, we will regularly notify and discharge student debt for borrowers who meet the criteria for early forgiveness who are enrolled in SAVE.
And tomorrow, President Bilen — Biden will be in Los Angeles, where he will announce the debt cancelation for these 150,000 borrowers.  Some of the people in the room include individuals who will benefit from this forgiveness, as well as borrowers who have had their debt canceled through other actions this administration has taken, such as fixes to the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program.
President Biden will never stop fighting to deliver relief to as many borrowers as possible.  And our team will continue to work tirelessly to make sure Americans across the country are feeling and benefiting from the President’s actions and policies as quickly as possible.
Thank you, again.  And I’ll turn it back to you, Angelo.
MODERATOR:  Thank you, Natalie.  And thank you, Secretary. 
With that, we will move to the question-and-answer portion of the call.  As a reminder, this will be on background and attributable to “senior administration officials.” 
Please use the “raise hand” function on Zoom to queue up for questions.  I will give you all a minute to do that, and then we will take your questions.
All right.  We will start with Haley Bull.  You should be unmuted now.
Q    Hey.  Thanks for doing this.  I’m just curious, with President Biden’s remarks tomorrow, if you can give any further preview of the message he is hoping to convey while out in California, how fine of a point he will hit on this.  Thanks.
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL:  This is [senior administration official].  I can take that.  The President will be underscoring, again, his firm commitment to delivering student debt relief to as many borrowers as possible as quickly as possible.  He’ll be describing how this is — I mean, this additional relief that — that he is announcing tomorrow is just one in a series of efforts — at this point, more than 25 — or at this point, 25 actions — to address student debt and to deliver loan forgiveness.
So, this is just one more step in a long, ongoing effort to fix a broken system and deliver student debt relief for millions of Americans.
MODERATOR:  Thank you.  We will go to Eliza Haverstock next.  You should be unmuted now. 
Q    Hi.  Thanks for taking this call.  I just had two quick clarification questions.  First, does this wave of SAVE relief incorporate past periods of repayment accounted for by the IDR account adjustment?  And then, the second: Is there, like, a state — like, an enrollment cutoff date for borrowers to be enrolled in SL- — in SAVE to be included in this wave of forgiveness?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL:  Yes, these include months that are credited due to the IDR account adjustment.  And the borrowers who are receiving notifications tomorrow were enrolled earlier this year. 
As the Secretary mentioned, we’re going to continue to reach out to borrowers to encourage them to enroll in the SAVE Plan.  This benefit is just one more reason that the SAVE Plan is the most affordable way to repay your loans.  And we’ll be continuing to update these discharges periodically.
MODERATOR:  Thank you.  We will go to Jeff Mason next.  You should be unmuted now.
Q    Great.  Thanks very much.  Just a question about where the money comes from.  Is this — is there a pot of money that was set aside first for student loan relief or debt forgiveness, or, otherwise, where is — where does the money come to pay for this?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL:  Hey, Jeff.  At the Department of Education, we have the authority to administer the student loan programs, including delivering to students all of the benefits for which they are eligible.  So, we don’t need an additional appropriation or act of Congress like — like some of our programs do.
MODERATOR:  Thank you.  We’ll go to Michael Stratford next.  You should be unmuted now.
Q    Hey.  It’s Michael Stratford at Politico.  I have a question about these congratulatory emails from the President.  I know you’ve announced that you’re — you’ve sent those out in relation to past buckets of student debt relief.  But I’m wondering, can you clarify: Have all 3.9 million borrowers who have received relief under this administration received those emails from the President at this point?  And is it fair to say that, going forward, you intend to — to send out those emails directly from the President to anyone else who — who receives relief?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL:  Hi, Michael.  No, they haven’t gone to everyone in that 3.9 million.  We do see them as an important way to communicate with borrowers, to make sure emails get opened, and to raise the profile of the benefits that we’re offering and encourage more borrowers to take advantage of them.
And I don’t have a commitment or a policy going forward as to what we’ll do.
MODERATOR:  Thank you.  We will go to Ebony McMorris next.  You should be unmuted now. 
Q    Wonderful.  Thank you so much for doing this.  (Inaudible) question.  One is about the IDR adjustment.  When will the IR — IDR adjustment — when will that (inaudible) —
MODERATOR:  Ebony, I think we are losing your line.  Do you want to try one more time?
Q    Can you hear me?  Okay.
MODERATOR:  No, unfortunately, it does not —
Q    — when IDR adjustable — you can hear me?
MODERATOR:  Go ahead. 
Q    I think I’m going in and out.  Sorry.
MODERATOR:  Okay.  We — we’ll follow up with you on that question.  Next, we will go to Cary Barbor.  You should be unmuted now.
Q    Thank you.  Do you have any sort of data, any breakdown on, state by state, how many borrowers are being relieved in various states?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL:  Not at that time.  Happy to take a look, if that’s something we can produce in the — in the coming days.
MODERATOR:  Thank you.  We will go to Cheyenne Haslett next.  You should be unmuted now.
Q    Hi, everybody.  Thank you for doing this call.  So, of the 3.9 million people who have been approved for debt relief, can you tell us how many have received that debt relief and when you expect it to hit at 3.9?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL:  Those are individuals who have all been identified as eligible for loan relief.  And we’re in the process of delivering that relief.  In some cases, it takes a little bit longer.  For example, an individual that is entitled to a refund of past payments takes a little more time to process to make sure those — those funds reach them.
I don’t have an update on — on the number of loans that have been formally discharged at this point.
MODERATOR:  Okay.  We will go to Amanda Fitzpatrick next.  You should be unmuted now.
Q    Hi.  Thank you again for taking the call.  When you send the email, can you kind of walk us through what the email will entail.  I know that there have been instances with some of the previous emails — not even just from — from the White House — where it’s spam or people are trying to take information.  I’ve interviewed people that have also fallen victim to scams through student loan forgiveness.  Is there something you could kind of share with our viewers and listeners about what they should look out for?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL:  I appreciate the question.  We have worked really hard to make sure that students know the most reliable information is on StudentAid.gov and, if they see information that they suspect is fraudulent, to refer that to the FTC.
You know, obviously, this email is coming from the President.  I’m trying to nail down what address it will be sent from or other identifying details.  And we can follow up with you on those — on that information.
MODERATOR:  Yes.  And the — the embargoed copy of the email that will come from the President should also be in your inbox.  And if it’s not, I’m definitely happy to follow up with you on that.
Okay.  Our last question will come from Natalia Wilson.  You should be unmuted now.
Q    Thank you so much for having this today.  I just wanted to ask: As Black college graduates, on average, have higher student debt than their white counterparts, how will this SAVE Plan relief benefit Black graduates — and, even more specifically, HBCU graduates — who, again, typically have higher student debt?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL:  It’s — you know, it’s true that Black borrowers are more likely to borrow, they borrow larger amounts, and they typically struggle to repay.  And making student loan programs more fair is an important step toward addressing inequities in opportunities by race in our country.
The SAVE Plan is, for most borrowers, the most affordable way to repay student loans.  And it’s particularly helpful to people who have larger debt amounts.  And so, we anticipate it’s going to be a valuable tool for many Black borrowers and for many alumni of historically Black colleges and universities to help them afford to repay their student loans or — or earn loan forgiveness.
MODERATOR:  Thank you.  With that, that was all the time we have today.  As a reminder, the contents of this call are embargoed until 5:00 a.m. Eastern tomorrow.
Thank you again for joining us.

5:23 P.M. EST

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