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Joe Biden's student loan forgiveness plan will cost $400 billion, budget office says

President Joe Biden speaks during a meeting of the White House Competition Council in the State Dining Room of the White House in Washington, Monday, Sept. 26, 2022.
Susan Walsh
/
AP
President Joe Biden speaks during a meeting of the White House Competition Council in the State Dining Room of the White House in Washington, Monday, Sept. 26, 2022.

Joe Biden's plan to cancel up to $20,000 in student loan debt for federal aid borrowers is expected to cost about $400 billion, according to the Congressional Budget Office.

The estimate is for a period of the next 30 years and will add to the country's deficit, it said.

Additionally, the pause on federal student loan repayments cost $20 billion from September to December 2022, the agency said.

Though, the office also said its estimates are "uncertain," as it cannot accurately predict how much student loan debt will be repaid after Biden's plan takes effect. The estimates also do not include loans issued after June 30.

As of June 30, the CBO estimates federal student loan debt to be at $1.6 trillion among 43 million borrowers.

Biden announced in August a sweeping effort to forgive federal student loan debt – up to $20,000 for Pell Grant recipients, and up to $10,000 for others who qualify under the plan's income cap.

About 95% of borrowers meet the criteria for forgiveness and about 45% of borrowers will have their balances completely wiped out, the CBO said.

Copyright 2022 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Corrected: September 27, 2022 at 12:00 AM EDT
An earlier version of this story used an incorrect figure for the time covered by the CBO's analysis. The $400 billion in estimated costs are over a 30-year period.
Ayana Archie