The long-awaited, just-released secret student loans memo means this for student loan cancellation.
Here’s what you need to know.
The heavily-redacted student loans memo that student loan borrowers have been awaiting since April was finally made public through a Freedom of Information Act request. The memo, which supposedly is about the president’s legal ability to cancel student loans unilaterally without further congressional authorization, was released along with dozens of other emails from the U.S. Department of Education. You won’t get much from the memo itself — the entire memo is redacted. However, the title — “The Secretary’s Legal Authority for Broad-Based Debt Cancellation” — remains. Here’s what this memo means for student loan cancellation:
1. This student loan memo means nothing for student loan cancellation
Based on the heavily-redacted student loans memo that was released, the memo in its current form means nothing for student loan cancellation. The memo is all redacted, so it’s unreasonable to conclude anything regarding student loan cancellation. The title of the memo confirms the topic, wide-scale student loan forgiveness, and how it relates to legal authority. However, this isn’t breaking news. White House Chief of Staff Ron Klain confirmed in April that the Education Department was preparing a memo on this very topic. However, since the memo is redacted, it’s unclear what are the content of the memo, including any potential recommendations for student loan forgiveness. (Student loan forgiveness won’t be available to these student loan borrowers).
2. There’s no evidence the Biden administration “hid” the memo on student loan forgiveness
Some have claimed that the Biden administration purposely “hid” the memo on student loan forgiveness. Members of Congress, including Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) have demanded that the student loan memo be released. However, it’s unclear if this the entire memo, the only memo, or if there is any memo that the Education Department has completed. The redactions are based on attorney-client privileged communication, and shouldn’t be viewed as an attempt to hide the contents of the memo. During the Trump administration, the Education Department wrote a memo on student loan forgiveness, concluding that the president cannot unilaterally enact student loan cancellation without further authorization from Congress. Biden’s presidential campaign staff likely examined student loan forgiveness. It wouldn’t be surprising if the White House and the Education Department also have analyzed the president’s legal authority. So, a singular focus on this student loan forgiveness memo is understandable, but it’s not the definitive memo on student loan cancellation. (Here’s how to get student loan forgiveness even if you don’t work in public service).