President Biden on Friday canceled nearly $5 billion in student loan debt for 74,000 people, the administration’s latest effort to provide gradual relief after the Supreme Court struck down Biden’s most ambitious loan cancellation plan last year. .

Most of the people who will benefit from the latest round are teachers, nurses, firefighters and other public officials, who qualify for help under existing programs that have been plagued by bureaucratic and other problems for years.

“My administration can provide relief to these borrowers, and millions more, thanks to the fixes we made to failed student loan programs that prevented borrowers from getting the relief they were entitled to under the law,” Biden said in a statement.

His promise to forgive student loans is a sticking point for crucial voting blocs, particularly young people, and for Black borrowers who disproportionately carry the most student loan debt. According to government data, more than 43 million people nationwide owe about $1.6 trillion in federal college loans.

The Biden administration has canceled more than $136 billion in student loan debt for more than 3.7 million people as the White House finds solutions after the Supreme Court’s decision in June.

That more ambitious plan would have canceled up to $400 billion in student debt for about 43 million borrowers. But the court ruled that Biden had exceeded his authority with the plan.

The president said Friday that his administration “continued to seek an alternative path to providing student debt relief to as many borrowers as possible as quickly as possible.”

In October, the Biden administration forgave $9 billion in loans to about 125,000 borrowers who worked in public service jobs and people with permanent disabilities. In December he disappeared almost $5 billion in relief for 80,300 borrowers.

The administration also initiated a program, known as SAVE, that would reduce monthly payments and shorten the life of loans for millions of borrowers. The Department of Education announced this month that it would accelerate relief for some borrowers in the program who have less than $12,000 in loans.

Biden’s efforts to eliminate debt through policy changes have consistently achieved favorable results among Americans. But Republicans who oppose loan forgiveness characterize the policies as an unfair burden on taxpayers.

“It is clear that the Biden administration needs a good dose of old-fashioned fiscal common sense; The only thing he knows how to do is spend like a drunken sailor.” said Rep. Virginia Foxx.a North Carolina Republican who is chairwoman of the Education and Workforce Committee.

Debt relief advocates say the Biden administration should be praised for canceling historic levels of student loan debt, but they called for even more aggressive policies.

Braxton Brewington, press secretary for Debt Collective, an advocacy group working to cancel student loan debt, said the administration’s actions were “a reminder that, despite the Supreme Court ruling, there are powers to available to the Biden administration and uses them, but barely.”

“At this point, we’re getting closer to saying they’ve made a dent in the wallet, but at this scale and at this pace, we’re still going to have a student debt crisis,” Brewington said. .

In a letter sent this week to Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona, the NAACP along with more than 60 other organizationsurged the administration to reconvene a rule-making session to define and extend relief to borrowers experiencing “hardship,” which would capture a large swath of Biden voters: recent graduates, low-income borrowers and borrowers color.

Wisdom Cole, national director of the NAACP’s College and Youth Division, said that student loans “absolutely remain a voting issue” and that the NAACP is working to recruit 300,000 volunteers to attract black voters in November. He said the hardship rule would be important for the administration to demonstrate its commitment to broader relief.

“Getting loans is a (point blank) difficulty to begin with and we have to get young people excited about this election,” Cole said. “And so when we see bold, progressive policies like that, we can ensure the turnout we need to win.”

Biden’s campaign has signaled that it plans to emphasize that his loan forgiveness has had a real impact. This week, Biden made an unannounced campaign stop at the home of an educator in North Carolina who had his loans forgiven.

“Joe Biden knows that true leadership means giving working Americans the relief and breathing room they need to succeed, which is why he has taken historic steps to reduce costs across the board, including canceling more student loans than any president in American history,” said Kevin Muñoz, the chief spokesman for Biden’s re-election campaign.