2022 was a big year for student loans — to say the least.
With the new year just around the corner, here’s a look back at key moments and milestones for student debt in 2022:
The start (and stop) of widespread student loan forgiveness
In August, President Biden announced a student loan relief plan that would forgive up to $10,000 — or $20,000 if the borrower received a Pell Grant — in federal student debt for over 40 million eligible borrowers.
This was thrilling news for borrowers, millions of whom completed the application for forgiveness soon after it launched in October. But by November, that excitement had given way to confusion and frustration, thanks to multiple lawsuits that prompted courts to temporarily block the Department of Education (ED) from implementing the relief plan.
So what now? The fate of widespread student loan forgiveness will be decided in the coming months after the Supreme Court reviews the case in February 2023.
Federal payment suspension was extended again (and again, and again)
The pause on federal student loan payments was extended three times in 2022 — for a total of eight extensions since the moratorium first began in 2020.
This year’s first extension was announced in April, which pushed the deadline from May 1 to August 31. Then in August — in the thick of an especially unsteady period for the national economy — the moratorium was extended through the end of the year.
At the time, the Biden administration was adamant that this extension would be the last. But in November, it announced that the payment freeze will continue into 2023, a direct result of the ongoing legal challenges against Biden’s plan for student loan forgiveness.
As it stands now, ED plans to resume monthly federal student loan payments 60 days after the lawsuits blocking widespread loan forgiveness are resolved or 60 days after June 30 — whichever comes first.
The Public Service Loan Forgiveness waiver expired
October 31 marked the end of the limited-time Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) waiver, which was first implemented in fall of 2021 to make it easier for borrowers to qualify for federal student loan forgiveness through the long-troubled program.
The waiver resulted in the cancellation of more than $10 billion in student loans for upwards of 175,000 borrowers, and in October, ED announced plans for permanent improvements that will ensure that eligible borrowers can count on PSLF for years to come.
The Secure Act 2.0 crossed a major milestone
In March, Congress approved the SECURE Act 2.0 with almost unanimous support. Insiders expect the Senate to act quickly to pass the bill — likely even as soon as the end of 2022.
Once it becomes law, the bill will allow employers to match employees’ student loan payments as tax-advantaged retirement contributions. In turn, SECURE Act 2.0 will unlock unprecedented reach to new participants, since student debt is the reason why a quarter of the 30 million Americans who have access to a retirement plan through work but don’t participate choose to opt out.