FACT CHECK: Joe Biden Falsely Claims He Signed A Law For Student Loan Debt Forgiveness

Elias Atienza | Fact Check Reporter

President Joe Biden claimed in a forum Oct. 23 that he signed a law into effect regarding student loan debt forgiveness.

Verdict: False

Biden has not signed any law that deals with student loan debt forgiveness. Biden issued an executive order canceling up to $20,000 in student debt.

Fact Check:

The Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals blocked President Biden’s student loan forgiveness plan as it considers a challenge to the move, according to NPR. White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre released a statement claiming the order “does not prevent us from reviewing [loan forgiveness] applications and preparing them for transmission to loan servicers.”

During a Presidential forum hosted by NowThis News, Biden responded to a question from Joshika Kumaran about how he and Congress could lower the cost of college. The president stated that he would point out that universities often raise the cost of tuition, encourage state legislatures to provide more funding, among others. He also said that he has provided more money for historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs) and minority serving institutions (MSIs).

“And the other piece, what we’re trying to do is, you’re probably aware, I’ve just signed a law that’s being challenged by my Republican colleagues, who are the same people who got PPP loans for up to close to, in some cases, up to $500-$600,000. They have no problem with that. The individuals in Congress got those,” Biden said. “But what we’ve provided for is, if you went to school, if you qualified for a Pell Grant, you qualify for…$20,000 in debt forgiveness. Secondly, if you don’t have one of those loans, you get $10,000 written off. It’s passed. I got passed it by a vote or two and it’s in effect.”(Emphasis added by Check Your Fact)

Biden has not signed any laws that would provide student loan debt forgiveness. The president announced a student debt loan forgiveness program in August 2022 that authorized the “Department of Education [to] provide up to $20,000 in debt” for those with Pell Grants and $10,000 debt cancellation to “non-Pell Grant recipients.” Nowhere in the White House fact-sheet is it described as a signed law.

Congress has passed –which were signed by Biden– several laws in the past month, but none of them deal with student debt loan forgiveness. If Biden had signed a bill that gave up to $20,000 in debt forgiveness, media outlets would have covered it, yet none have. (RELATED: Did Drug Companies Spend $100 Million Lobbying Against The Inflation Reduction Act?)

The Congressional Research Service describes the legal justification for the program in a Sept. 13 report. The report states that the “Department of Justice’s Office of Legal Counsel (OLC) concluded that the Higher Education Relief Opportunities for Students (HEROES) Act of 2003, as amended, authorizes the Secretary of Education (Secretary) to relieve borrowers of the obligation to repay federal student loans.”

The studentaid.gov website also matches what Biden described in his comments. It states that individuals can receive “up to $20,000 in debt relief if you received a Federal Pell Grant in college” and up “to $10,000 in debt relief if you didn’t receive a Federal Pell Grant in college” if they meet the requirements. (RELATED: Here Are Four Claims From The Oct. 14 Georgia Senate Debate)

A White House official told Check Your Fact that Biden was referring to the Inflation Reduction Act.

“The President was referring to the Inflation Reduction Act, which reduced the deficit by hundreds of billions of dollars, creating room for other crucial programs,” the official said. “As you know, no Republicans voted for the Inflation Reduction Act in the House or in the Senate, where it passed by a single tie-breaking vote by Vice President Harris.”

Biden did not refer to the Inflation Reduction Act when discussing student debt loan forgiveness.

Elias Atienza

Fact Check Reporter
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