The U.S. Department of Education (ED) has named the student loan stakeholders who will be participating in discussions with the department to develop debt relief policies via the Higher Education Act.
The process will be made up of a three-session series of “negotiated rulemaking,” in which ED will meet with the selected non-federal “negotiators” from 14 different constituencies to settle on a proposed rule to then put up for public comment.
“If we reach consensus on a proposal with the non-federal negotiators, our proposed rule generally reflects that consensus. If not, we will propose the regulations we believe to be most appropriate,” said U.S. Under Secretary of Education James Kvaal. “The public will have an opportunity at that stage to provide another round of input by commenting on those proposed rules."
The negotiators who will engage with ED for this process include individuals from organizations and roles such as – but not limited to – the NAACP; the National Consumer Law Center; state officials; state attorneys generals; private and public higher ed institutions; lenders; student loan borrowers; and military service members.
The first session of the process is scheduled to take place Oct. 10-11.
The Higher Education Act is the most recent avenue through which the White House is seeking to provide debt cancellation to borrowers, after the Supreme Court struck down the Biden-Harris administration’s initial student debt forgiveness plan this past June.
The administration has also rolled out its new Saving on A Valuable Education (SAVE) income-driven repayment plan, which currently has more than 4 million student loan borrowers enrolled, according to ED. Student loan repayments are set to resume Oct. 1.
This update from ED comes amid an impending government shutdown as a result of federal lawmakers being unable to reach an agreement. ED will still be required to collect student loan payments during a shutdown, Kvaal said.
"If Republicans needlessly shutdown the government, we anticipate that key activities at federal student aid will continue for a couple of weeks,” Zayn Siddique, principal deputy director of the White House Domestic Policy Council, said during the briefing. “And federal student aid plans to continue to engage with borrowers, help them know their options, and will continue to support them in the coming weeks.
“However, a prolonged shutdown lasting more than a few weeks could substantially disrupt the return to repayment efforts and long-term servicing support for borrowers."