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Biden administration: More than 1M Floridians got approval for federal student debt relief

Across the country, more than 16.4 million Americans were fully approved before the program was halted. No repayments were made.

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — For a short few weeks, millions of Americans making less than $125,000 a year were able to apply for up to $20,000 in federal student debt relief. 

In that time, more than 1 million Floridians had their applications fully approved and sent to loan servicers for debt forgiveness, according to new data released by the Biden administration.

In total, out of the more than 26.2 million Americans who were either automatically eligible for the program or applied, more than 16.4 million had their applications fully approved, the news release stated. 

These applications were received within the four weeks the program was active before lawsuits against the federal debt relief program and a federal judge's ruling stopped the U.S. Department of Education from processing applications. That meant no money actually went to the people whose applications were approved. 

According to the administration, more than 40 million Americans would qualify for the debt relief program if it was still active. 

Back in December, the Supreme Court agreed to hear the case to decide whether the Biden administration has the authority to broadly cancel student loans. However, arguments haven't been set yet and a final answer from justices likely won't happen until early summer. 

When the program officially launched in October, it promised to forgive $10,000 in federal student debt forgiveness for people who earn less than $125,000 or households earning less than $250,000 a year. 

Conservative attorneys, Republican lawmakers and business-oriented groups have asserted that Biden overstepped his authority in taking such sweeping action without the assent of Congress. They called it an unfair government giveaway for relatively affluent people at the expense of taxpayers who didn’t pursue higher education. 

The administration has argued that the loan cancellations are legal under a 2003 law aimed at providing help to members of the military. The program is a response to “a devastating pandemic with student loan relief designed to protect vulnerable borrowers from delinquency and default,” the Justice Department said in court papers.

The Associated Press contributed to this report. 

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