Padilla Hosts Virtual Federal Student Debt Relief Briefing to Encourage Californians to Apply

WATCH: Padilla discusses federal student debt relief and its impacts on student loan holders

CALIFORNIA — U.S. Senator Alex Padilla (D-Calif.) held a virtual briefing today with the U.S. Department of Education, California Department of Financial Protection & Innovation (DFPI), and a student loan holder to discuss the Biden administration’s student debt relief plan and its impacts on Californians. The recently announced plan will forgive up to $10,000 in federal student debt for student loan holders who meet income criteria and up to $20,000 for loan holders who meet income criteria and who were Pell Grant recipients. Eligible borrowers with federal student loans can apply now for relief by filling out a fast and easy online application.

“Student debt relief will lift a huge economic burden off the shoulders of millions of hard-working Californians,” said Senator Padilla. “Forgiving federal student loans will not only help advance racial equity and lift up communities of color, it will also allow borrowers to build a life without the weight of student loan debt holding them back and provide a boost to our economy. I urge all eligible Californians with federal student loans to apply as soon as possible.”

“I believe that college affordability is a social justice issue, and I am so proud of the deep commitment of Governor Gavin Newsom to help California borrowers,” said DFPI Commissioner Clothilde Hewlett. “As a longtime advocate for students with the belief that higher education can set you free and break the cycle of poverty, the California initiative to support student borrowers is very personal to me. Together, we can ensure that student loan borrowers have a fighting chance to get their dreams back on track and be all they can be.”

The briefing included the U.S. Department of Education Deputy Assistant Secretary Claire Viall, California DFPI Commissioner Clothilde “Cloey” V. Hewlett, DFPI Student Loan Ombudsperson Celina Damian, and Mariana Lopez Ramos, a student loan holder from California State University, San Bernardino.

About 4 million Californians hold an average student loan debt of $37,783, according to the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, and about 92% of California borrowers will be eligible for the new loan forgiveness. Nearly 90% of the relief dollars will go to those earning less than $75,000 per year. Of the 40 million Americans who are eligible for relief, more than 60% are Pell Grant recipients who are eligible to receive up to $20,000 in debt cancellation. 71% of Black and 65% of Latino loan holders are Pell Grant recipients. The administration’s plan will advance racial equity by ensuring that the relief goes to the loan holders with the highest economic needs to help narrow the racial wealth gap.

Senator Padilla has been a consistent advocate for students and student loan holders and urged the President to provide meaningful student debt cancellation. Padilla also cosponsored the College for All Act to make college tuition-free and debt-free for working families and introduced the Basic Assistance for Students in College (BASIC) Act to ensure college students are able to meet their basic needs while pursuing their education. He introduced the Student Debt Forgiveness for Frontline Workers Act, which would forgive student and professional training loan debt of frontline healthcare workers and honor their resilience and sacrifice during the COVID-19 pandemic, and cosponsored the Loan Forgiveness for Educators Act of 2022 to expand federal loan forgiveness for educators. Padilla cosigned a letter to strengthen the Department of Education’s proposed rules to expand and improve student debt relief programs and sent multiple letters to the administration, urging that they extend the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Waiver.

A recording of the webinar is available for download here.

Presentation from the webinar can be found here.


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