Office of Financial Aid Advises Next Steps on Securing Biden-Harris Administration’s Student Loan Debt Relief Funds


Abe Frato

The Office of Financial Aid encourages students to apply for the Student Loan Debt Relief Plan.

On Aug. 24 this year, President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris announced that they would provide targeted student loan debt relief to those fiscally impacted by the pandemic. The U.S. Department of Education would provide up to $20,000 in debt cancellation to Pell Grant recipients, and up to $10,000 in debt cancellation to non-Pell Grant recipients. Borrowers are eligible for this relief if their individual income is less than $125,000 or if their household income totals less than $250,000.

According to Michele Kosboth, the College’s director of financial aid, this program is available to currently enrolled Oberlin College students, alumni, and College employees. 

“This includes people who have been in repayment as well as those who have yet to begin repayment, but have borrowed Federal Student Loans prior to June 30, 2022, and which are currently held by the federal government,” Kosboth wrote in an email to the Review.

This program comes at a time when the total cost for four-year colleges is increasing. The White House noted in a press release that the total cost of a four-year college education has almost tripled, even when inflation is taken into account. 

“Federal support has not kept up,” the statement said. “Pell Grants once covered nearly 80 percent of the cost of a four-year public college degree for students from working families, but now only cover a third.” 

A borrower’s relief is capped at the amount of their outstanding debt.

For example, a borrower with $15,000 of outstanding debt can only receive $15,000 even if they would otherwise be eligible for $20,000 of relief.

Many borrowers will be able to receive relief without applying because income data is already available to the U.S. Department of Education. For borrowers whose income data the U.S. Department of Education doesn’t have, the Administration has launched a simple application. The application does not require borrowers to upload any documentation.

“The Biden administration encourages everyone who is eligible to apply, but there are 8 million people for whom they have data who will get relief without applying, unless they opt out,” Kosboth wrote.

Due to a federal court order, applications are still being accepted, but loan discharge is currently suspended. While the Biden administration cannot currently issue debt relief, it can proceed with reviewing applications and preparing to transfer them to loan servicers. 

College second-year Natalie Levine believes that the program is a good beginning but further action is needed. 

“I think this is a step in the right direction, but there’s definitely more that should be done to support those who are struggling to access education,” Levine said.

Borrowers are advised to apply by mid-November in order to receive relief before the expiration of the current repayment pause on Dec. 31. This applies to borrowers who were previously in repayment. To apply, go to