WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senators Bob Menendez and Cory Booker (both D-N.J.) Monday joined several colleagues in sending a letter to President Joe Biden – pressing the Administration to provide student debt relief to parent borrowers.
Following the President’s historic actions to address student debt, the Senators are urging the Administration to incorporate Parent Loan for Undergraduate Students (Parent PLUS) borrowers in any administrative improvements to federal student loan programs, including the Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) and Income-Driven Repayment (IDR) programs, extensions or creation of waivers, and in the implementation of executive actions to provide student debt relief.
“We write to urge you to consider Parent PLUS borrowers in any administrative changes and executive actions you undertake to improve the Department of Education’s student loan programs and provide student loan relief,” wrote the Senators to President Biden. “Currently, there are over 3.6 million Parent PLUS borrowers owing more than $107 billion, accounting for about 10% of all student loan debt. Congress created the (…) program in the 1980 reauthorization of the Higher Education Act to meet demands for increased federal student lending and as a response to families who needed assistance covering their expected family contribution.”
To help reduce barriers for parent borrowers, the Senators are asking the Administration to extend the additional $10,000 in student debt forgiveness to Parent PLUS borrowers whose children were Pell Grant recipients and to ensure that improvements to student loan forgiveness programs include Parent PLUS borrowers, which receive less favorable terms than other types of federal student loan programs, including higher interest rates and origination fees.
“Recent studies show that an increasing number of Parent PLUS borrowers are among the lowest income families receiving Pell Grants, have among the lowest estimated family contributions (EFCs), and are typically parents of students attending public institutions or Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs). Parent PLUS loan debt also impacts low-income Black and Latino families disproportionally,” added the Senators. “…By reducing barriers to this program for Parent PLUS borrowers and ensuring they are included in debt relief, we will move one step closer to remedying program-wide issues for these borrowers, narrowing the wealth gap, and addressing our country’s student loan debt crisis.”
In addition to Sens. Menendez and Booker, the letter was signed by Sens. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.), Alex Padilla (D-Calif.), Tina Smith (D-Minn.), and Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii).