Watch CBS News

Keller @ Large: Student loan forgiveness isn't turning into kudos for Biden

Keller @ Large: Why doesn't Biden get credit for student loan forgiveness?
Keller @ Large: Why doesn't Biden get credit for student loan forgiveness? 02:45

BOSTON - Thousands of people struggling to pay off student loans will see their debt wiped out under a new forgiveness program announced by President Joe Biden today. It's called the SAVE program (Saving on a Valuable Education).

But will the White House get political credit for it?

"That brings us to a total of 3.9 million people who've been identified for loan forgiveness," said US Undersecretary of Education James Kvall in a WBZ-TV interview, part of an all-out push to tout the latest administration effort to ease the student debt burden. The program brings total debt cancellation under Biden to nearly $138 billion.

It won't help big or recent borrowers; SAVE is for students who took out loans of $12,000 or less and have been paying them down for ten years or more. And while they'll be reminded who's helping them by an email from the president, the Biden administration knows they've got a bigtime messaging problem.

At a recent rally in Nevada, Vice President Kamala Harris implored a young crowd to recognize what they've done: "You said, we need to do something about the issue of student loan debt, and so we did. President Biden and I canceled more than $136 billion in student loan debt."

But recent polling of Nevada voters found a solid majority thought Biden was doing either too much to ease student debt or too little. And his latest moves are underwater, with 43 percent supporting them while 49 percent oppose them.

"At the department, we have a deficit of trust because these programs have been run so poorly for so long," says Kvall. "When the Biden administration began, only 7,000 people had ever gotten public service loan forgiveness." Now, 800,000 have erased their debt that way.

Enough to bank some political credit for Biden? Not so far.

Forty-three million people have student loans, and if they're struggling to repay them, it's a problem not just for them but for their parents, children, and the local economy where they live that is deprived of their full participation. If you want help for yourself or a loved one go to, and be careful to avoid the multiple websites with similar names that may be trying to scam you.

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.