Feb 21, 2023 - News

Virginia's student debt relief standstill

Data: U.S. Department of Education; Map: Thomas Oide/Axios

Nearly half a million Virginians were about to get up to $20,000 in student loan debt forgiveness, but that relief is in limbo until the U.S. Supreme Court weighs in.

The big picture: About 685,000 Virginians applied or were automatically eligible for debt relief in the four weeks applications were open, according to data recently released by the White House.

  • 429,000 fully approved applications were sent to loan servicers.

Background: Biden unveiled plans last August to knock $20,000 off the bills for Pell Grant recipients and $10,000 for those who did not receive grant money. The forgiveness applies only to those who make less than $125,000 a year.

  • The program is now on hold while the Supreme Court considers a legal challenge brought by a coalition of GOP-led states.

Zoom in: Virginians in the 3rd Congressional District — which includes Norfolk, Portsmouth and Hampton — had the highest number of eligible and approved borrowers, followed by those in the 4th, which stretches from the Richmond area to the North Carolina border, per new Education Department data.

  • Southwest Virginia's 9th District had the lowest. The mostly-Fairfax 11th had the second lowest number of eligible borrowers and fourth lowest approved.

Zoom out: Roughly 26 million people nationwide applied or were automatically eligible for loan forgiveness. About 16.5 million have been fully approved.

What we're watching: The Supreme Court is set to begin hearing arguments on Feb. 28. A ruling isn't expected until summer.


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