NCL urges ED to erase student debt, improve permanent pathways to cancellation

July 24, 2023

Media contact: National Consumers League – Katie Brown,, 202-823-8442

Washington, D.C. – Last week, the National Consumers League (NCL) filed comments in a U.S. Department of Education (ED) regulatory process that will enable the Department to broadly cancel student debt. This newest debt cancellation initiative came after NCL urged the administration to utilize alternate authorities following the Supreme Court’s misguided judgement against the first debt cancellation program. 

“President Biden and Secretary Cardona correctly recognized that we need to address the debt burden associated with getting an education,” said NCL Public Policy Manager Eden Iscil. “They have an opportunity to substantially improve the lives of millions of borrowers through a number of options available with this process the Department initiated.” 

In its comments to ED, NCL advocated for universal student debt cancellation without unnecessary administrative burdens on borrowers. Such burdens likely prevented millions of eligible borrowers from applying to the first cancellation program and significantly delayed its implementation. In addition to one-time debt cancellation, this process will empower ED to improve its permanent cancellation pathways under its income-driven repayment (IDR) plans to allow debt relief to be accessible in the future as well. 

Currently, IDR plans use all-or-nothing debt cancellation, with student debts erased only after several years in repayment (usually 20-25 years). Such a system relies on student loan servicers, ED, or borrowers not making a single mistake in filing paperwork for decades—something almost 6 out of 10 borrowers do. Under NCL’s proposal, borrowers would receive incremental forgiveness. For example, a borrower who is currently eligible for 100% debt cancellation after 10 years of repayment would instead see 10% of their principal balance erased each year for a decade.  

NCL’s full comments to the Department can be found here.  


About the National Consumers League (NCL)
The National Consumers League, founded in 1899, is America’s pioneer consumer organization.  Our mission is to protect and promote social and economic justice for consumers and workers in the United States and abroad.  For more information, visit