President Joe Biden. Brendan Smialowski/AFP via Getty Images Biden’s administration has said for months they are assessing his legal authority to broadly cancel student debt.
Newly released documents obtained by the Debt Collective show a memo on this has existed since April, and possibly since February.
Pressure is ramping up on Biden to release the results of the memo and give borrowers relief before payments resume in February.
Americans first heard that the Education Department would be reviewing President Joe Biden’s legal ability to cancel student debt broadly on April 1, when White House Chief of Staff Ron Klain broke that news to Politico. But while Klain said that review would take a few weeks, it’s been nearly seven months, and the public has yet to see the results .
But newly released documents show the memo existed just days after Klain announced the review.
The New Yorker first reported that the Debt Collective – the nation’s first debtors’ union – obtained documents and internal Education Department emails via a Freedom of Information Act request that showed a first draft of the memo, titled "The Secretary’s Legal Authority for Broad-Based Debt Cancellation," has existed since April 5. The memo appeared to the public as six pages of pink redactions, and according to the internal emails, was circulated within White House leadership on the same day.
Insider spoke with the Debt Collective about the implications of the secret memo. Redacted student debt cancellation memo from the Education Department on April 5. The Debt Collective The memo could’ve existed as early as February
An Education Department official wrote on April 3 that following Klain’s comments, the department will "likely be preparing an updated version of the memo prepared in February," the same month White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki first said the administration is "reviewing" debt cancellation actions.
On April 8, according to the documents, the word "draft" was removed from the header, and the memo assumed a new title that referenced the HEROES Act – the law both Biden and President Donald Trump used to extend the pandemic pause on student-loan payments.