A debtors’ union recently created a petition in which those suffering from student loan debt can appeal to the Department of Education for loan forgiveness.
On August 28, the Debt Collective created a “Student Debt Release Tool,” which seeks to call on the Department of Education to cancel all student loan debt through the Higher Education Act of 1965.
“This first-of-its-kind petition generates an individual appeal to the Department of Education requesting that they exercise that power for you — now,” the Debt Collective wrote on its website. “This brand new tool creates a legal memo requesting that the Department of Education cancel your federal student loans, invoking its authority to ‘compromise, settle, waive or release’ all federal student debts.”
The Debt Collective’s tool has been developed as students across the United States continue to call on President Joe Biden to take further action to cancel student loan debt ahead of the resumption of payments in October, which were previously paused due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“There has never been an organized effort to apply or ask the Department of Education to use its legal authority to do so—until now. By filling out this form, you are joining a movement that is making history,” the union said.
In order to apply, individuals can use the Debt Collective’s student debt release tool to enter their personal information, which will then send a letter to the Department of Education reminding them that they have “the power to cancel our student debt.”
“This tool should take approximately 10 to 20 minutes to complete. It depends on how much of an earful you want to give the Department of Education. We encourage you to take the time to write more, but you don’t have to,” the Debt Collective says.
The Biden administration and the Department of Education recently announced new ways to lower student loan debt, particularly through income-driven repayment plans (IDR). These plans base a student’s debt payments on their family size and annual income and seek to lower each payment. The U.S. Supreme Court previously struck down a plan to cancel a majority of student debt proposed by Biden.
Newsweek reached out to the U.S. Department of Education via email for comment.
In February, the New Yorker published a story discussing how appealing for student loan forgiveness has worked in the past. A woman named Betty Anne had her student debt forgiven when she was 91 years old.
“Under a provision of the Higher Education Act of 1965, known as the ‘compromise and settlement’ authority, the Department of Education had canceled Betty Ann’s debts,” the New Yorker said.
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