(The Hill) – The Education Department on Tuesday announced plans to discharge $3.9 billion in federal student loans for 208,000 borrowers in its latest round of relief.
The office said the discharge would apply to any remaining federal student loans that the borrowers received to attend ITT Technical Institute, which closed in September 2016, from January 2005 and on.
“This includes borrowers who have not yet applied for a borrower defense to repayment discharge. These borrowers will have the federal student loans they received to attend ITT discharged without any additional action on their part,” the agency announced on Tuesday morning.
The move follows previous decisions by the administration to approve loan discharges for borrowers to attend ITT, after the office said the institute was found to have “engaged in widespread and pervasive misrepresentations related to the ability of students to get a job or transfer credits.”
The department also charged the institute with “lying about the programmatic accreditation of ITT’s associate degree in nursing,” citing extensive internal records, testimony from staff and first-hand accounts from borrowers.
“It is time for student borrowers to stop shouldering the burden from ITT’s years of lies and false promises,” said Education Secretary Miguel Cardona said in a statement. “The evidence shows that for years, ITT’s leaders intentionally misled students about the quality of their programs in order to profit off federal student loan programs, with no regard for the hardship this would cause.”
“The Biden-Harris Administration will continue to stand up for borrowers who’ve been cheated by their colleges, while working to strengthen oversight and enforcement to protect today’s students from similar deception and abuse,” he added.
Overall, the Biden administration has approved nearly $32 billion in student loan relief for more than 1.6 million borrowers. However, that relief has been greenlighted only for certain borrowers, including those participating in the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program, borrowers with total and permanent disabilities and those found to have been misled by their institutions.
The Biden administration has fielded pressure from progressives and student loan advocates for broader relief, particularly as a current pause on federal student loan repayments is scheduled to lapse at the end of August.
The White House has indicated that another decision on student loans could come later this month, after reports emerged earlier this year that President Biden was weighing a plan to provide $10,000 in student debt forgiveness for some borrowers.
But officials have kept mum when it comes to publicly sharing details about its plans.