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On September 20, 2023 Biden student loans, the Biden administration announced that it is forgiving $37 million in student loan debt for students who attended the University of Phoenix from November 1, 2002 through December 31, 2010. This forgiveness is part of the administration’s broader effort to provide relief to student loan borrowers who were misled or defrauded by their colleges.

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The $37 million in loan forgiveness was approved through the Borrower Defense to Repayment program, which allows federal student loan borrowers to have their loans forgiven if their school engaged in misconduct or failed to fulfill its obligations. The program aims to provide relief to borrowers who were subject to deceptive practices or predatory behavior by colleges and universities.

For University of Phoenix students specifically, the forgiveness addresses allegations that the for-profit college misled students about job prospects, transferability of credits, and program offerings between 2002 and 2010. Many students enrolled during this time have claimed they did not get the education or career opportunities they were promised.

The Impact of Student Loan Debt

This recent round of targeted student debt forgiveness indicates the biden student loans administration’s commitment to addressing the rising cost of college and the burden of student loans. Currently, 45 million Americans hold $1.6 trillion in federal student loan debt. This debt can significantly impact borrowers’ financial futures and livelihoods.

Those with student loans often struggle to save for emergencies, invest for retirement, or purchase homes. Research shows that student debt can affect career decisions, delay marriage, influence family planning, and lead to poorer mental health outcomes. Wide-scale forgiveness could greatly benefit many borrowers.

Biden student loans Record on Student Loan Forgiveness

Since taking office, the Biden administration has approved over $117 billion in student loan forgiveness for hundreds of thousands of borrowers.

This includes:

  • $7.9 billion for 400,000 borrowers under the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program
  • $8.5 billion for 175,000 students with total, permanent disability
  • $6 billion for 200,000 borrowers defrauded by for-profit colleges
  • $1.26 billion for 115,000 borrowers through improvements to income-driven repayment plans
  • And more through borrower defense and closed school discharges

The administration also extended the student loan payment pause four times, giving borrowers additional relief during the COVID-19 pandemic. Despite this progress, many Americans are calling on Biden to enact wider-scale forgiveness as he originally supported on the campaign trail.

Breakdown of the University of Phoenix Loan Forgiveness

The biden student loans administration’s approval of $37 million in borrower defense claims for University of Phoenix students marks one of the largest instances of targeted student debt cancellation to date.

Here is an overview of the forgiveness:

  • Amount: $37 million in total loan forgiveness
  • Recipients: Over 3,600 University of Phoenix borrowers
  • Timeframe: Students who attended the school from November 1, 2002 through December 31, 2010
  • Claims: Borrowers asserted the school misled them and violated Consumer Protection regulations
  • Program: Borrower Defense to Repayment discharge program

This forgiveness applies only to federal student loans. It excludes private student loans. The amount of relief each borrower will receive varies based on how much they borrowed. Some key reasons borrowers qualified for discharge:

  • Misrepresentations about job prospects post-graduation
  • Misrepresentations about transferability of credits
  • Misrepresentations about program offerings and availability

Students submitted applications through the Borrower Defense program’s online portal. They outlined their experiences and claims against University of Phoenix. The Department of Education reviewed their applications and determined the borrowers qualified for full loan discharges.

Moving forward, the Biden administration says it will continue to consider similar claims from other students who feel they were misled by colleges and career institutions.

University of Phoenix History and Controversies

University of Phoenix has faced many controversies over its recruitment strategies and educational quality.

Understanding this history provides helpful context for why so many students filed borrower defense claims against the school:

  • For-profit school owned by Apollo Education Group
  • One of the nation’s largest for-profit colleges with over 200 campuses and online programs
  • Aggressively recruited students from 2002-2010 leading to massive, rapid enrollment growth
  • By 2010 had 470,000 students and 88% of revenue from federal aid
  • Legal investigations and lawsuits alleged deceptive marketing and enrollment tactics
  • Low graduation rates, high student loan default rates, poor career outcomes
  • Predatory recruitment of military and veteran students
  • Credits often don’t transfer to other schools, limiting career options
  • Graduates report earning less than those from other universities

The University of Phoenix case highlights the widespread complaints against exploitative practices by some for-profit colleges. However, students from all institution types may qualify for borrower defense discharges if they feel their college acted improperly.

Applying for Borrower Defense Discharge

For students who believe they were misled or defrauded by their college, applying for a borrower defense discharge can lead to complete federal student loan forgiveness.

Here is an overview of the application process:

  • Submit an online application through the Borrower Defense website
  • Outline which school you attended and when
  • Explain how the school misled you or violated laws
  • Provide supporting documentation and evidence
  • Sign the application under penalty of perjury

Once submitted, the Department of Education will review the application and determine eligibility. There is currently a significant backlog of claims, so it may take over a year to receive a decision. Applications are being reviewed on a rolling basis.

Key factors that strengthen an application include:

  • Detailed explanation of the school’s misconduct
  • Specific representations made to the borrower
  • Catalogs, brochures, or other materials showing misleading information
  • Enrollment agreements, transcripts, and financial documents
  • Witness statements from faculty, students, or recruiters

Borrowers will be notified if their application is approved. The discharged loan amount will then be deducted from the borrower’s federal student loan balance.

Criticisms and Concerns Over Current Policy

While targeted biden student loans debt cancellation can greatly help certain borrowers, some criticize the Biden administration’s current approach as insufficient. They argue wide-scale forgiveness is still needed.

Some key criticisms include:

  • Borrower defense approvals are happening too slowly with too many denied claims
  • Harmed borrowers must jump through hoops with lengthy applications
  • Forgiveness is piecemeal and unpredictable vs. broad relief
  • Current policies don’t adequately hold predatory schools accountable
  • Debt cancellation amounts remain tiny compared to massive college costs
  • Broader reforms are needed to make higher education affordable

However, the administration counters it is upholding standards, targeting relief where merited, and working within current legal parameters on debt cancellation. The recent wave of borrower defense discharges shows a willingness to provide forgiveness when evidence of misconduct exists.

Looking Ahead: Potential for Future Reform

The student debt crisis remains a pressing issue, with many Americans shouldering loans well into their careers. However, the topic has gained significant national attention and prompted calls for reform.

Some possibilities that may arise in the future include:

  • More oversight and regulation of for-profit colleges to limit misconduct
  • Expanded loan discharge programs and options like borrower defense
  • Changes to bankruptcy laws to allow discharging student loans
  • Caps on interest rates for federal student loans
  • Universal income-based repayment plans
  • Increased grants and scholarships to make college more affordable
  • Debt-free college initiatives at the state or federal level
  • Widespread student loan forgiveness and cancellation

The Biden administration will continue facing pressure to enact further reforms and deliver on campaign promises to student debt holders. While the path forward remains uncertain, the recent borrower defense approvals demonstrate an administration willing to provide relief where possible under current law.


The biden student loans administration’s approval of $37 million in borrower defense claims for University of Phoenix students represents a major victory for student loan forgiveness. This targeted discharge provides relief to thousands of borrowers who faced misleading practices and broken promises. However, wider reform is still needed to fix underlying issues that cause student debt to spiral out of control.

Looking ahead, many will continue urging the administration to enact broad student loan forgiveness, increase accountability for institutions, and make higher education more affordable. As student debt reform remains hotly debated, the $37 million discharge offers a glimmer of hope to those fighting for change. The cancellation shows borrower defense as an impactful tool—one which could potentially provide relief to millions more students in the future.


What is borrower defense to repayment?

Borrower defense to repayment is a program that forgives federal student loans if the borrower’s school misled them or violated applicable laws. Borrowers can apply for loan forgiveness through this program if they were subject to fraud or other misconduct.

How do I know if I qualify for borrower defense?

You may qualify if you can demonstrate that your school made misrepresentations such as lying about job prospects, transferability of credits, or program offerings. Providing supporting documentation strengthens the claim.

What types of loans are eligible for borrower defense?

Only federal student loans are eligible, including Direct Loans, FFEL Loans, and Perkins Loans. Private student loans do not qualify.

What if my borrower defense application is rejected?

If your application is denied, you can request reconsideration and submit additional evidence. You can also appeal the decision. If those options fail, legal action against the school may be an alternative path.

How long does the borrower defense process take?

The process often takes over a year due to significant backlogs. The Department of Education is working through applications and discharging loans where appropriate. Follow up if you have been waiting for more than 12 months.

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