debt relief rally
People rally in support of President Joe Biden's student debt cancellation plan on August 25, 2022 in Washington, D.C.
(Photo: Stefani Reynolds/AFP via Getty Images)

New Tool Creates Personalized Legal Memo Asking Education Department to Cancel Student Debt

"President Biden says he is going to use every tool he can to cancel student debt, but there is still much more he can do," said a co-founder of the Debt Collective. "With this new tool, we are calling his bluff."

"Filling out this form creates an individual demand letter, tailored to your own student debt story, calling on the Department of Education to use its powers to cancel not just your debt, but everyone's."

That's how the Debt Collective describes a tool it launched Monday to increase pressure on the Biden administration to deliver on long-promised relief from federal student loan repayments.

As the group's website explains, for those who want to use the tool:

  • You answer some basic questions about your student debt.
  • Based on your answers, we've created legal language to assert why your loans are BS and should be canceled. Those answers will generate a demand letter.
  • When you've completed all the questions, the form will get sent automatically to key officials with the power to act at the Department of Education.

"Using this new tool can in no way harm you," said Debt Collective spokesperson Braxton Brewington. "The reality is, the Education Department has the authority to eliminate a person's federal student debts if they want to. We know because they've done it before. Whether they choose to cancel people's debts or not is completely up to their political rationale."

An FAQ section for the tool explains that filling out the form does not ensure debt cancellation, and "the Department of Education is not required to respond to these letters. However, our goal is to submit so many of them, they will HAVE to make a statement."

President Joe Biden—who is seeking reelection next year—announced his initial plan to use a 2003 law to cancel up to $20,000 per borrower last August, but the U.S. Supreme Court's right-wing supermajority struck down the program in June.

Now, with loan payments that have been paused throughout the Covid-19 pandemic set to resume in October, borrowers and some Democrats in Congress have renewed demands for urgent relief action by the Biden administration.

"President Biden says he is going to use every tool he can to cancel student debt, but there is still much more he can do," noted Debt Collective co-founder Thomas Gokey. "With this new tool, we are calling his bluff and demanding he cancel the debt for everyone today."

After the Supreme Court ruling, the Biden administration initiated a rulemaking process involving the Higher Education Act of 1965, but borrowers and campaigners are concerned about how long it is taking and warn that right-wing opponents of debt cancellation will use the time to come up with ways to keep blocking relief.

Hoping for swift and sweeping presidential action, the Debt Collective previously published a draft executive order that says in part, "The secretary of education shall immediately use the full extent of his power under the Higher Education Act and any other applicable law to cancel all obligations to repay federal student loans."

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