Collaborating to Fix Student Loans

The Department of Education is planning to continue addressing reforms to the administration of the student loan program — based partly on the input of two Democratic senators, according to a letter sent by Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona earlier this month.

Cardona told Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, a Democrat from New York, and Senator Elizabeth Warren, a Democrat from Massachusetts, that in the upcoming months, the department will be working to improve targeted debt relief, address student loan servicing and debt collection and strengthen oversight and enforcement of both institutions and accrediting agencies.

“I look forward to continuing to engage with you and your staff on these issues as we pursue these items,” Cardona wrote. “The actions we take in the coming months will be an important down payment on assisting the roughly 45 million Americans who have a federal student loan. But the department cannot go it alone to solve all these issues.”

Both Schumer and Warren have been vocal about issues related to student debt throughout the first year of the Biden administration. Both have been calling for the president to unilaterally cancel $50,000 in student loan debt per person, while Warren has been particularly focused on the need for improvements to the administration of the student loan program.

Cardona laid out the actions the department has taken so far, including extending the student loan repayment pausedischarging $1.5 billion in student loans for borrowers who were defrauded by their institutions and beginning the negotiated rule-making process to write new regulations for issues related to Title IV, which covers most student aid programs.

Warren appears to be satisfied with the progress the department is making — she has dropped her hold on the confirmation vote for James Kvaal to be under secretary of education, the department’s top higher education post. Schumer filed cloture on Kvaal’s nomination last Wednesday, and the full Senate will consider it on September 13 when it returns from its recess.

“I have had productive conversations with Mr. Kvaal, the Department of Education and the White House, and I am glad they have committed to making substantial reforms to the administration of the student loan program,” Warren said. “I look forward to continuing to work with them as these changes are implemented.”

Members of the higher education community have been supportive of Kvaal’s nomination. Following the scheduling of the vote, the American Council on Education tweeted that Kvaal is a “highly qualified nominee” who has “enthusiastic support.”

“We’re looking forward to James Kvaal’s national leadership as U.S. Under Secretary of Education,” tweeted Martha Kanter, CEO of College Promise and former under secretary in the Obama administration. “Glad his confirmation is scheduled!”

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