Emmi Explains: The future of student loans

Confused by what's going on with the student loan cancellation debate? Yahoo News Producer Emmi Vélez explains.

Video transcript

EMMI VELEZ: If you're in college or have recently graduated, chances are you or someone you know has a big pile of student debt. And trust me, that totally sucks. Since President Biden has taken office, calls to cancel student loan debt have become even louder, but he's a little hesitant to wipe student debt clean.

Democratic lawmakers have introduced a proposal to cancel up to $50,000 in student debt. They say that it's good for American business and will help correct financial injustices against minorities. But earlier this month, Biden publicly opposed a push by congressional Democrats to use his executive powers to cancel $50,000 in student loan debt, saying he would, quote, "not make that happen."

But student loan forgiveness is still possible. At that very same event, Biden expressed his support for eliminating $10,000 in student loan debt from borrowers. He did not close the door on forgiving student loans higher than $10,000 or reject the idea of using executive authority to cancel student debt.

So will Biden actually cancel your student loan debts? Well, that depends on three things. First, is Congress willing to take the lead? Biden prefers that student loan forgiveness be enacted by Congress, since it will have a stronger legal foundation than if he did it through executive action alone.

Second, is it even legal to use an executive order to cancel student debt? If Congress decides not to do it, supporters say that the Higher Education Act gives the president the authority to release borrowers from their student loans. But others argue the cancellation of student loan debt exceeds the scope of authority that Congress gave the executive branch when it first enacted the Higher Education Act.

Finally, will the political pressure be enough to make something actually happen? The biggest area of uncertainty right now is exactly how much political pressure will be put on the Biden administration to cancel the debt, which could seriously impact policy decisions. So if you're hoping for the government to help you out with your student loans, it might take a while, but do not give up just yet.