President Biden on Thursday said that 16 million Americans who applied for the student loan debt program will be approved by the end of the week, the last step before they begin receiving forgiveness checks.
“By the end of this week, the Department of Education will have approved applications of 16 million Americans and sent the necessary paperwork to student loan servicers — the last step before the 16 million Americans can have their loan discharged,” Biden said in remarks at the Central New Mexico Community College in Albuquerque, N.M.
Those 16 million people “should be seeing relief in the coming days,” he said, while noting that the program is on a temporary hold because of legal challenges.
He blamed Republicans for the halt, adding that “their outrage is just simply wrong, and I might add … I’m not being too political here, but hypocritical.”
A legal ruling halted the administration from disbursing relief while a federal appeals court considers a challenge from six Republican-led states. Biden previously predicted checks would arrive in coming weeks and that his administration would win the court case.
The plan is set to forgive up to $10,000 in federal student loan debt for borrowers earning under $125,000 and as much as $20,000 for borrowers who received Pell Grants.
Biden has touted the program, despite the halt, in the days leading up to the election as one of the major accomplishments of his administration.
“My plan’s going to make a real difference lowering the monthly costs for families,” Biden said on Thursday.
He added that 150,000 New Mexicans who took a Pell Grant to go to college qualify for the loan forgiveness.
Biden was joined in his remarks by New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham (D), who is in a competitive reelection bid against Republican challenger Mark Ronchetti.
The president will campaign for the governor in an event later on Thursday, despite New Mexico being a typically blue state and Lujan Grisham leading in the polls. A recent poll shows her holding a 3 percentage point lead over Ronchetti.
Biden will leave New Mexico on Thursday evening for a campaign event in San Diego, Calif., another blue stronghold, to campaign for incumbent Rep. Mike Levin (D.)