More than 600,000 Louisiana student borrowers are eligible for debt relief of up to $20,000 under President Joe Biden’s plan, with about half of those eligible to have all of their student loans forgiven, data shows. released Tuesday by the White House.

Biden’s plan will forgive up to $10,000 in student debt for most borrowers and up to $20,000 for those who received Pell Grants, which are given to students who have shown exceptional financial need.

In total, 40% of all adults in Louisiana who have attended college are eligible for aid and 13% of the state’s population is eligible.

“The impact in Louisiana is vast,” Jordan Matsudaira, chief economist at the U.S. Department of Education, said in an interview with USA Today. “It’s one of the states that will see the greatest benefits proportional to population.”

Applications are not yet available, but most borrowers will need to apply for debt forgiveness.

The Department of Education says borrowers must file for student debt cancellation by Nov. 15 for adjustments to be reflected in monthly student loan payments beginning in January, but the actual deadline is Nov. December 31st.

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Borrowers can also sign up to receive updates at by providing an email address to the US Department of Education and clicking the top box “NEW!” Federal Updates on Student Loan Borrowers”.

“It’s about providing breathing room for many working-class Americans who have invested in themselves,” Matsudaira said.

Matsudaira said 70% of student borrowers in Louisiana — 425,200 — will be eligible for up to the highest amount of $20,000 as Pell Grant recipients. That compares to an average of 62% in other states. A total of 608,000 people are eligible for some relief, of which 298,000 are expected to have all their student debt erased.

“It underscores the fact that many borrowers in Louisiana come from working-class families,” he said.

Biden’s plan only covers federal student loans, not private loans, and is limited to individual borrowers with incomes under $125,000 or household incomes under $250,000.

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Matsudaira said he doesn’t have a total dollar amount Louisiana borrowers will be able to wipe out, but data from the Education Data Initiative estimates that Louisiana residents carry a combined debt of $22.5 billion. dollars in student loans.

Biden’s program also extends a moratorium on federal student loan payments that was put in place during the coronavirus pandemic “one last time” through Dec. 31, 2022. Monthly payments will be capped at 5% of monthly income for undergraduate loans.

Biden’s plan was sharply criticized by Louisiana’s Republican congressional delegation, which includes all but the lone Democratic congressman Troy Carter from New Orleans, who hailed the debt relief.

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On Wednesday, Republican U.S. Senator from Louisiana Bill Cassidy said spending plans by Biden and the Democratic Congress had contributed to record inflation, describing the appropriations as creating “sugar spikes.”

But Carter thinks Congress should do even more to provide student debt relief, “building on the current president and passing laws like my Student Loan Relief Act of 2021 so that every American can pursue their dreams”.

A USA TODAY/Public Agenda poll in July found that nearly 60% of Americans favor “cancelling a significant portion of government student loans for college graduates who have excessive debt.” That support rate plummeted when Americans were asked about debt forgiveness for all graduates, regardless of income.

Greg Hilburn covers Louisiana politics for the USA Today Network. Follow him on Twitter @GregHilburn1.