Dr. Miguel A. Cardona, President Biden’s nominee to lead the U.S. Department of Education, expressed support for student loan reform during a radio interview on Monday.
Asked if he would prioritize helping student loan borrowers as Secretary of Education, Cardona said, “It would be a priority for me. It would be an area of focus that, early on, we’d have to really make sure we’re coming up with clear support plans and strategies” to help student loan borrowers. Cardona also emphasized that as a first generation college student, he understands “the importance of higher education, and the importance of making it accessible.”
Cardona has been serving as the Connecticut Education Commissioner, and has three decades of experience as a public school teacher and administrator. If confirmed by the Senate, he would be the first Latino to lead the U.S. Department of Education.
Cardona would be taking over the Education Department from Betsy DeVos, who resigned earlier this month following the insurrection at the Capitol on January 6. DeVos had been a controversial figure during her tenure leading the Department, and she has frequently clashed with consumer rights groups and student loan borrower advocates over her management of the Department’s sprawling student loan and federal student aid system.
Advocates are pushing Biden to take significant action on student debt early in his term. On his first day in office, Biden issued an executive order extending the current moratorium on federal student loan payments, interest, and collections to September 30, 2021, giving borrowers a much needed reprieve. The moratorium had been scheduled to end later this week.
But progressive lawmakers and consumer protection organizations are pushing Biden to go further by cancelling student loan debt through executive action. Some student loan legal experts and progressive lawmakers, including Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), have argued that the Higher Education Act provides the Secretary of Education with broad authority to modify or cancel student loans. Biden has expressed skepticism about the legality of this route, and has suggested that Congress should take the lead on student loan forgiveness measures.
Cardona did not address student loan forgiveness in his comments yesterday.
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