Biden’s Department of Education Hires Student Loan Cancellation Attorney: How It Might Affect Your College Debt


The Biden administration has hired a student loan expert who believes the education minister has the legal authority to write off student debt in accordance with the executive order. Here’s what it means for your college debt. (iStock)

President Joe Biden’s Department of Education has hired an outspoken supporter of college debt relief. according to press release on July 6

Toby Merrill will serve as Deputy General Counsel specializing in student loans. Merrill is a professor of law at Harvard University who founded Predatory Student Lending Project, a non-profit organization that represents low-income borrowers in lawsuits against commercial colleges.

He is also an ally of Senator Elizabeth Warren, Massachusetts, who supports cancellation of student loan debt of up to $ 50,000 for 95% of borrowers, or about 42 million Americans overall. Senator Warren, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and other prominent Democrats insist that Biden use executive measures to implement widespread student loan forgiveness measures like this one.

Keep reading to learn more about how this meeting might affect your college debt and what you should be doing with your student loans during this time. And if you are currently looking for private student loans or student loan refinancing, take advantage of historically low interest rates comparing lenders on Credible.


How Merrill’s Appointment May Affect Student Loan Write-offs

Merrill is a proponent of student debt cancellation, especially for borrowers who have been defrauded by commercial universities. The nonprofit Merrill Project on Predatory Lending represents over a million former students who have been defrauded by commercial educational institutions.

Nearly six months after Biden’s inauguration, the Department of Education has taken steps to cancel student loans for borrowers who were defrauded as part of their borrower protection program. Currently Minister of Education Miguel Cardona canceled $ 1.5 billion worth of college debt of about 90,000 borrowers.

It is still unclear what the Biden administration intends to do in terms of broader student loan forgiveness, but the appointment of a student debt expert with Merrill’s credentials could signal a move towards student debt cancellation. In January 2020 Merrill signed a letter then-presidential candidate Warren, who claims that the secretary of education can legitimately “compromise and modify existing student loans” to effectively cancel student debtwith reference to the US Constitution:

“As a background, the right to create debts is usually understood as the right to write off debts. These powers are primarily vested in Congress. The Constitution gives Congress the right to ‘dispose’ of United States property.”

The letter also mentions the Higher Education Act (HEA), which suggests that the law empowers the Minister of Education with the power to take broad action to revoke student loans.

While Merrill’s appointment as General Counsel has raised hope among student loan borrowers who were counting on forgiveness for their student loans, so far nothing has changed. And since student loan payments will resume in October 2021, there is little time for borrowers to create a loan repayment plan.


Dealing With College Debt When Payments Resume

The federal moratorium that suspends student loan payments will expire on September 30, 2021. Since there is no definitive answer to the question of whether your student loan debt will be forgiven, here are a few things you can do to prepare your finances for student loan repayment:

  • Keep paying federal student loans at 0%. This allows you to repay the principal of the loan, which can save you money over the life of the loan and help you pay off your debt faster.
  • Save some extra money in case payments resume. With less than three months left before the deadline for your student loan repayment pause, now is the time to put in place a security system so that you do not violate your loan obligations.
  • Explore other federal student loan waiver programs. You can qualify for postponement due to economic difficulties or deferral for unemploymentwhich can last up to 36 months.
  • Refinance your private student loans while interest rates are close to record lows. Refinancing a student loan can help you lower your monthly payment, get out of debt faster, and even save money over time.

It is not recommended that you refinance federal student loan debt, as doing so will void your eligibility for federal protection, including writing off your student debt in the future.

However, student debt cancellation measures most likely will not apply to private student loans. If you have private loans, refinancing can save you money now and in the future. Compare student loan refinancing rates at Credible to ensure you get the most competitive rate possible.


Still not sure what to do with your college debt?

College payment complicated. There are many types of student loans and each borrower is in a unique situation that requires individual attention. What works best for one student loan borrower may not work for you, and vice versa.

Contact an experienced loan officer at Credible, who will answer your questions and discuss your private student loan options so you can make a cost-effective financial decision.


Have a financial question but don’t know who to contact? Write to a safe money expert at and your question can be answered by Credible in our Money Expert column.

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