graduation cap on money
Arizonans Eligible For $1.03 Billion In Student Debt Relief

August 15, 2023

By Corinne Murdock |  

Arizonans are eligible to receive $1.03 billion in student debt relief, according to the latest estimates from the Biden administration.  

Arizona’s cut accounts for about 2.6 percent of the $39 billion issued for 804,000 total borrowers (an average of over $48,500 per borrower). In a press release, the Department of Education (ED) clarified that the billion-odd in funds applied to over 20,500 borrowers in Arizona. 

$1.03 billion for 20,500 borrowers averages about $50,200 per borrower: about $2,000 short of four years of in-state tuition at Arizona State University, $2,600 short of four years of in-state tuition at the University of Arizona, and $4,500 more than four years’ tuition at Northern Arizona University.   

The relief constitutes the 12th-highest award from the Biden administration. The 11 other states above Arizona, in order from highest to lowest award amount, were: Texas, Florida, California, Georgia, New York, Ohio, Illinois, Michigan, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, and Virginia.

In a statement, President Joe Biden said that the past mistakes of the federal government were to blame for individuals not paying their debts. Biden also said that Republican lawmakers were hypocritical and dismissive for rejecting his sweeping student loan forgiveness.  

“I have long said that college should be a ticket to the middle class — not a burden that weighs down on families for decades,” stated Biden.   

The federal relief comes from the Income-Driven Repayment (IDR) plans launched by the Biden administration. The IDR plans slash undergraduate loan payments in half and abolish payments for low-income borrowers. The Biden administration determines IDR plans based on discretionary income: the difference between annual income and 150 percent of the poverty guideline based on the borrower’s family size and state of residence. 

There are four possible IDR plans: Revised Pay As You Earn Repayment Plan (REPAYE) lasting 20 years for undergraduate loans only or 25 years for any graduate or professional loans, requiring 10 percent of discretionary income; Pay As You Earn Repayment Plan (PAYE) lasting 20 years, requiring 10 percent of discretionary income or a maximum based on the 10-year Standard Repayment Plan amount; Income-Based Repayment Plan (IBR), requiring 10 percent of discretionary income for new borrowers on or after July 1, 2014 and lasting 20 years, or 15 percent of discretionary income for older borrowers on or after July 1, 2014 and lasting 25 years, with both contingencies capped by the 10-year Standard Repayment Plan; and the Income-Contingent Repayment Plan (ICR) lasting 25 years, requiring 20 percent of discretionary income or projected payment on a repayment plan with a 12-year fixed payment adjusted to income. 

Even if borrowers don’t fully pay off their loan balance under their IDR plan, the federal government will forgive the remaining loan balance. ED will also count months of nonpayment based on certain criteria toward the total repayment period: economic hardship deferment, repayment under other plans, and required zero amount payment periods. Additionally, ED offers borrowers total forgiveness of any remaining balance after 10 years of payments, rather than 20 or 25 years, should the borrower participate in both an IDR plan and the Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) Program.

ED began notifying eligible borrowers of the relief earlier this month. The Biden administration has issued over $116 billion in student loan relief for three million borrowers: an average of $38,600 per borrower.   

That average is roughly several hundred dollars less than the average national total for four years of in-state tuition at a public college, and about equivalent to the average national total for just over one year of out-of-state tuition at a public college. 

Corinne Murdock is a reporter for AZ Free News. Follow her latest on Twitter, or email tips to

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