Canceling thousands of dollars of student debt was the easy part. Now, U.S. Sen. Chuck Schumer of New York is calling on loan providers to get ready for the hard part.
On the heels of President Joe Biden's student loan reform plan last week, Schumer said it's up to loan companies to prepare for an influx of questions from borrowers. The senator said that more than $16 billion in student loan debt would be wiped out in New York alone, which could mean more than two million New Yorkers calling up their loan service providers with questions.
"Right now, because of the overwhelming interest, you call up these loan processors and either no one answers or you have to wait on the phone for three-four hours, and a lot of them don't know the answers," Schumer said at a press conference on Sunday.
The president announced his plan to provide student loan debt relief to tens of millions of Americans on Wednesday. His list of reforms included an effort to cancel up to $10,000 for borrowers earning less than $125,000 — or $250,000 for married couples — and an additional $10,000 for Pell Grant recipients. Biden also granted borrowers one final extension of a pandemic-era pause on student loan payments that will expire at the end of the year.
Schumer said it was incumbent on the loan servicers to use money they receive from the federal education department to meet looming demand.
"The loan processors are making money," he said. "Now it's their obligation to step up to plate, hire enough people and have well-informed people tell the students what they need to do."
The average amount of student debt for a borrower from New York was listed at $38,400, according to the federal office of Federal Student Aid. Under Biden's plan, nearly half of all New Yorkers with student loan debt will see their debts completely wiped out, Schumer said.
On Sunday, Schumer said the reforms particularly affected New Yorkers. In 2021, for example, New York ranked fourth in the nation in Pell Grant recipients with more than 455,000, the senator said.
Student loan debt was listed as the second largest source of consumer debt in the United States, according to the city Department of Consumer Affairs. For years, Schumer has called for student debt forgiveness. In previous years, he called on the federal government to wipe out as much as $50,000 in debt from borrowers.