Biden Speaks About Student Debt Relief at New Mexico Community College Ahead of Midterms

President Joe Biden addressed a crowd of students and elected officials at Central New Mexico Community College in Albuquerque, on Thursday, November 4, discussing the national student loan debt relief program, ahead of midterm elections.

“It’s no surprise that New Mexico is seeing one of the fastest — I think either one or two — fastest-growing increase in college enrollment in this state — than anywhere in the country.” Biden said.

He touted the student loan debt relief website, saying nearly 16 million Americans and more than were set up to have their loans approved. Biden also took aim at Republicans for stalling the payment process with a lawsuit.

“Republican members of the Congress and Republican governors are doing everything they can, including taking us to court, to deny the relief and even to their own constituents." he said. “their outrage is just simply wrong. And I might add — I don’t want to be too political here — but hypocritical."

“I don’t want to hear it from MAGA Republican officials who sit in Congress and who had hundreds of thousands of dollars… in pandemic relief loans forgiven,” he added. Credit: The White House via Storyful

Video transcript

JOE BIDEN: Look folks, here in New Mexico, I want to thank the governor for making it possible for students across the state to go to college for free. And it's been, as I said, working hand in glove. I mean, there's a lot of ways that the federal government can be helpful and a lot of ways it can be a pain in the neck. And I try to get the pain in the neck out of the process.

But we've lowered costs for families. It's no surprise New Mexico has seen one of the fastest, I think either one or two fastest growing increase in college enrollment in their state than anywhere in the country. And the other one is New Hampshire. And so I understand why this is important. It's important because our leadership is an example for states all across the country. A lot of governors look and say, how'd you do that? There's a lot of ways to do it, and we talked about them. And you did it.

We're here today to talk about a key part of what we're doing nationwide. Student debt relief for millions of working and middle class Americans who are still recovering from the economic crisis caused by the pandemic.

When I announced I was going to run for the presidency this time, I made it clear that I had three goals. The first and most important goal was to give middle class families and working class families a fighting chance. They've been on the short end of the stick for a long time across the board. Across the board.

And that's why I said, whether it's a tax policy or whether it's education policy, whatever it is. When the middle class has-- where you're going to build this economy from the middle out or the bottom up, that way, the folks who are in the bottom of the scale have a shot, the middle class gets to grow, and the wealthy still do very well. There's never been a time in the middle class, working class are doing well, the wealthy haven't done very well.

And the way I think about it is when my dad talked about it and the way so many of you at home talk about it around the kitchen table. How much are your monthly bills at the end of the month? Do you have enough to pay for those bills? And what's left over? If anything. Is there enough for just a little bit of breathing room? As my dad used to say. Just a little bit of breathing room.

Folks in urban and suburban and rural and tribal communities across the country, our student loan program is designed to give just a little more breathing room. A little breathing room. You know, my administration is working to provide up to $10,000 in student debt relief and up to $20,000 if the person seeking the relief received a Pell Grant. Because to receive a Pell Grant, your family income had to be very low. And so you have to make under $125,000 now to get that relief.

And for borrowers out of school, nearly 90% of that relief is going to go to people who have incomes under $75,000. And it's a plan for people who took out federal loans before July of this year.

And a few weeks ago, we launched a simple online application, where you can apply for this debt relief. Folks, just go to Fill out your name, your social security number, your date of birth, and contact information. No forms to upload, no special login to remember. It's available in English and Spanish. It's on desktop and mobile. It takes less than five minutes to do it. And if you need additional information, we'll follow up with you. This is a game changer for so many people.

We're hearing from people all over the country about how easy it is to apply. Close to 26 million Americans have already applied, already given us the information so that they consider life-changing for their families and for them.

My commitment when I ran for president was as I said, the government would work to deliver for ordinary people. Simple application process keeps that commitment that way just as I'm keeping my commitment to relief student debt.

And I want to state again who will benefit most. Working people and middle class folks. If you earn under $125,000 a year, you'll get up to $10,000 knocked off your student debt. If you earn under $125 and you received a Pell Grant, you get another $10,000. There's $20,000 in relief. Over 200,000 people in New Mexico have student loans, and the average borrower in New Mexico owes just over $34,000. And my plan is going to make a real difference in lowering the monthly cost for families as well.


In total, more than 40 million Americans stand to benefit from this relief, and not a dime will go to the top 5% incomes. Period. Across America, nearly every Pell Grant recipient comes from a family making under 60 grand. 2/3 come from families making under $30,000 a year. In New Mexico, more than 150,000 borrowers received Pell grants to go to college. That's 150,000 New Mexicans who will get $20,000 of their loans wiped off immediately. Plain, simple. Amen.


Folks, as I pointed out, my wife has been a community college professor for years, and she still teaches. Matter of fact, she's teaching today before she goes off this evening to campaign for us. She's traveled across the country meeting students from every walk of life. Some of the students she meets work two or three jobs while going to school, putting dinner on the table, helping the kids with homework, staying up late to do their own homework. And Jill says they only ask for one thing in return, the chance. The chance to work hard and build a good life for themselves and their families.

Many of those students, just like the students here, have had to borrow money to cover the cost of tuition. Roughly 40% of community college students nationwide receive a Pell Grant. I'm here today to tell you, this student loan relief plan is for them as a recovery from the economic crisis, the pandemic inflicted, and pay for their education.

It's for folks like Christy, who you just heard from earlier. She went back to school to get a better job, take care of her family, so she could compete in today's economy. She relied on a student loan and a Pell Grant, and she did it while starting a family. Under our plan, she'll have nearly all of her loan forgiven. And it really matters.

By the end of this week, the Department of Education will have approved applications of 16 million Americans, and sent the necessary paperwork to student loan servicers, and the last step before the 16 million Americans can have their loan discharged. That's 16 million people who will be hearing from the Department of Education, that they've been approved and who should be seeing relief in the coming days.

But it's temporarily on hold, why? Well. Because Republican members of the Congress and Republican governors are doing everything they can, including taking us to court to deny the relief and even to their own constituents. And every lawyer tells me, we've knocked two of them out of the way, there's only one thing left in the way. And that's going to happen. And as soon as I announce my administration's plan for student debt, they started attacking it. Even though I ran on it and everybody knew what I was going to do.

Their outrage is simply wrong and I might add, allow me to be too political here, but hypocritical. Fighting them in court. We're not letting them get away with it. I'm never going to apologize for helping working middle class families as they recover from the economic crisis created by a pandemic. And I don't want--


There's an awful lot of mainstream Republicans who would-- they didn't vote for but who I know is supportive, but they're a little apprehensive about the situation in their party. I don't want to hear it from the meager Republican officials who sit in Congress and who had hundreds of thousands of dollars, in one case, over a $1,000,000 in pandemic relief loans forgiven. And all those folks had businesses hurt by the pandemic, where we stepped in and we helped. Well, those loans are being forgiven.

One of them, one of the congressmen received $2 million and forgiveness for a loan. Another one, who you know, she's very well-- she speaks a lot about this, Marjorie Taylor Greene and her husband. They got $180,000 in business loans forgiven. But she said, quote, "It's completely unfair for us to forgive student loans for working in middle class Americans."

Representative Vern Buchanan of Florida said our plan was reckless. He got forgiven $2,300,000. You can't make this stuff up. The Republican governors wrote me a letter saying that the relief only helps the elite few. You all know you're elite? It's nice to know that. I know you're elite. The elite few. Ted Cruz, the Senator from Texas said, "You're a bunch of slackers." He says, "For slackers who don't deserve relief." Who in Gods name do these guys think they are?

And folks, despite what Republican officials say, we can afford the student loan program. It's because of our historic deficit reduction. If we can hold for a second here. When I came to office, I received, and I've got an enormous debt passed on to me, a $2 trillion tax cut. Not a penny of which was paid for. And over 98% of it went to the top one, 2% of the public.

And guess what? They raised the deficit. But guess what? Because of our historic, We had a very different prime. A very different reduction for all Republicans who voted against this, and they opposed the Inflation Reduction Act. Every single one voted against it, even though some I know were for it. Everyone voted for against it. And this year, under the leadership of the Democrats in Congress and a little help from me, the deficit fell $1.4 trillion.


The largest one year drop in the history of the United States of America, and we cut the federal deficit in half this year. We cut in half. And this follows last year's historic drop in the deficit of $350 billion reduced last year. And we're going to further reduce the debt over the next decade by another $250 billion.

Well, that's not all. While we're leaving student debt, we're also resuming student loan payments that are paused during the pandemic. But come January, folks whose debt isn't fully canceled because of the up to $20,000 they can receive are going to start paying their loans again. But guess what? That means billions of dollars a year are going to start coming back in the Treasury. But my administration has a plan, economically responsible course to ensure the smooth transition to repayment and unnecessary defaults.

And so we're focused on going after the fraudsters who call borrowers and pretend they're from the government to help them with their loans. If you get any questionable calls, any of them, please, tell us by going to report

Look folks, my message to fraudsters is, looking to cheat the American people? Don't. We're going to get you. We'll hold your responsible.


Look, here's the other thing. My administration is taking additional steps to make education a ticket to the middle class and folks can actually afford. For example, we're fixing what was called, and it wasn't very well administered, the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program. The idea was if you use your education to go to public service, you can over 10 years have it totally forgiven if you do. And the program forgive students loans to encourage those students to go into public service, go into public school teachers, become police officers, work as local charities, members of the military, the National Guard.

Since I've been in office, more than 250,000 teachers, 235,000 to be precise, nurses, police officers, have been able to get over $14 billion in loan forgiveness. Because we're using them to encourage them to go into in these works if you need.

We're also proposing to change what's called income-driven repayment plans to make it simple and fair. No one with an undergraduate loan today or in the future, whether from a community college or a four-year college will have to pay more than 5% of their discretionary income to repay the loan no matter how long it takes. That's income after you pay for the necessities like housing, food, and the like. Only after that, 5% of disposable income.

You're currently paying 10%. We're cutting that in half to five. And if you still got loans left over after making your payments for 20 years, your debt will be completely fully wiped out. And I know that sounds strange to the students here, but a lot of people who are my generation a little bit later also have debt still.

My son, Beau Biden, who was the attorney general of the state of Delaware passed away after a year in Iraq living next to a burn pit of glioblastoma. He went to two universities. He went to the University of Pennsylvania and Syracuse Law School. He ended up with a debt because I had the dubious distinction of being listed as the poorest man in Congress.

I shouldn't say, but I'm going to tell you, anyway. I got a call when I'd be away campaigning for somebody. I'd call my wife in the morning before she took off to school, see how things were. And I called her one morning I was up and up in the state of Vermont campaigning for Pat Leahy. And I said, "Hi, honey. How are you?" She said, "Fine." Well, you know that's a good start.


And she said, "Did you read today's paper?" True story. Did you read today's paper? Meaning, the local Wilmington Paper. Wilmington, Delaware. I said, "No, honey. I didn't see it." She said, "Headline, front page, top of the fold. Biden, poorest man in Congress. Is that true?"


Well, I didn't think you were supposed to make money when you're in Congress. But anyway-- and I didn't feel poor. No. By the way, I got elected when I was 29, I had no income. I had little, I was just starting my law practice. But I had a good salary as a senator, I thought that was just fine.

But anyway, those who borrow the original balance of less than $12,000 like community college students, you're going to be done paying that in 10 years if you go into the position of making sure you're involved in public service. And these changes are going to save more than $1,000 a year on average. It's a game changer.

Let me close with this message to young people about this nation. I've always believed your generation, the 18, the 30-year generation represents the best educated, most talented, least prejudiced, most generous generation in American history. And I really mean that. It is. That's why I'm so optimistic about the future.

And that today, we face an inflection point. One of those moments that only come around every few generations, where there's so much change happening technologically, politically, environmentally, that the decades and the decisions we make now are going to affect the future for a decade or more to come or it's going to set the course.

I know your generation may feel like it's an added burden on top of what you've already been through. I'm not saying you have to shoulder the burden alone. The task at hand, though, and the task ahead is to work for all of us. What I am saying is you represent the best of us. The very best of us. Your generation is not going to be ignored. You will not be shunned. You will not be silenced. Just look at what happens when you speak out.

Two years ago, perhaps many of you voted for your first election or volunteered your first election. You understood the choice and the stakes because you expressed your right to vote and elected me, president, Kamala, vice president, the highest ranking woman ever to be elected in history. Since then, with your help and the help of the Democratic members of Congress here in New Mexico, we've delivered enormous progress for the nation. People are still hurting with inflation. With the most significant gun safety law in nearly 30 years. We're going to--

And by the way, I told the gov, I got assault weapons banned once in Congress, we're going to do it again.


We've passed the most significant infrastructure law in 70 years. The only thing bigger was Eisenhower's Highway Trust Program. The first Black woman on the Supreme Court of the United States has been appointed by Congress. I've appointed more appellate federal judges who are women and African-American than every other president in history combined. And the most significant commitment to climate change we've ever engaged in.

And if anybody ever doubted climate change, come to Mexico the last two years, New Mexico the last two years, you see what's happening. So I'm keeping my promise that no one should be in jail merely for possessing marijuana, by the way. Just for possession. Nobody should be in jail. Those records should be expunged.

And let me close with this. I know it's been a rough few years for hardworking Americans. A lot of families, things are still really tough. But there are bright spots where America is reasserting itself. I look around at all of you and I've never been, as I said, more optimistic. We've created 700,000 manufacturing jobs in America since we came to office. 700,000.

We have invested in new technologies. We invented the computer chip. We're investing literally $200 billion, and it's going to grow and making sure we produce these chips. They are smaller, the tip of your finger, but they run everything from automobiles to your home appliances to your wine-- across the board. So we we're making real progress.

And by the way, a lot of it is just going to kick in beginning January, because we pass this profound legislation on whether it's dealing with the environment or-- I mean, for example, it's estimated that what we did on the environment, we passed legislation providing $368 billion and help to deal with global warming.

Well, guess what? It's estimated that that's going to save just what's available to people for their homes to deal with weatherizing their homes, solar panel, a whole range of things. It's estimated it's going to save the average family in America at least $500 a year, and it's going to save the environment.

Look, I guess the point I want to make then I'll stop, our best days are really ahead of us. We just have to remember who in Gods name we are. We're the United States of America. There's nothing, nothing, nothing beyond our capacity. And I mean it, we've got to remember who we are.

I spent more time with Xi Jinping of China than any world leader has. When I was vice president and when I was out of the office for four years, when I was a professor, and then now as president. 68 hours in terms of on the telephone or in person with him.

And he asked me while we're on the Tibetan Plateau, I travelled like 17 to 18,000 miles with him. He said to me, he said, "Can you define America for me?" I said, yes, in one word. And please, always remember, one word. Possibilities. We're the only nation in the world believes anything is possible, and it is.

So God bless you all and may God protect our troops. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.