President Biden on Friday canceled nearly $5 billion in student loan debt for 74,000 people, the latest effort by the administration to deliver piecemeal relief after the Supreme Court struck down Mr. Biden’s more ambitious loan cancellation plan last year.
Most of the people who will benefit from the latest round are teachers, nurses, firefighters and others in public service, who qualify for relief under existing programs that have been plagued by bureaucratic and other problems for years.
“My administration is able to deliver relief to these borrowers — and millions more — because of fixes we made to broken student loan programs that were preventing borrowers from getting relief they were entitled to under the law,” Mr. Biden said in a statement.
His promise to forgive student loans is a sticking point for crucial voting blocs, particularly young people, and for Black borrowers who disproportionately shoulder the most student loan debt. More than 43 million people across the country owe $1.6 trillion in federal loans for college, according to government data.
The Biden administration has canceled more than $136 billion in student loan debt for more than 3.7 million people as the White House finds workarounds after the Supreme Court decision in June.
That more ambitious plan would have canceled up to $400 billion in student debt for about 43 million borrowers. But the court ruled that Mr. Biden had overstepped his authority with the plan.
The president said on Friday that the administration was “continuing to pursue an alternative path to deliver student debt relief to as many borrowers as possible as quickly as possible.”
In October, the administration forgave $9 billion in loans for about 125,000 borrowers working in public service jobs and those with permanent disabilities. Last month, the administration announced nearly $5 billion in relief for 80,300 borrowers.
The administration also started a program, known as SAVE, that would reduce monthly payments and shorten the life of loans for millions of borrowers.