The Biden administration is considering extending the freeze on federal student loan payments amid the surge of Covid cases and pushback from Democrats who objected to sending student loan bills to tens of millions of Americans in the coming weeks.
According to CNBC, a spokesperson for the U.S. Department of Education said they are weighing their options. “Since day one of the Biden Administration, we’ve been hard at work delivering meaningful relief to student loan borrowers,” the spokesman said on Tuesday (Dec. 21). “That started with an extension of the pause on federal student loan repayment until Jan. 31, 2022. Later this week, we will be announcing whether to extend the pause further.”
Since March 2020, borrowers have been able to pause their student loan payments — without interest — due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. However, the payments are set to resume at the end of next month.
As REVOLT previously reported, last week, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki revealed the news about the extension ending during a press conference. “We are still assessing the impact of the Omicron variant,” she said. She also stated that student loan borrowers can expect “more details” about the administration’s plan for restarting payments in the forthcoming weeks.
“We will engage directly with federal student loan borrowers to ensure they have the resources they need and are in the appropriate repayment plan,” Psaki continued, adding that a “smooth transition back into repayment is a high priority for the administration.”
There are more than 41 million student loan borrowers who have benefited from the payment break. The Department of Education is examining whether Biden is legally allowed to cancel student debt through executive action, but the administration has not delivered a timeline of that assessment.
Biden previously said he does not believe he has the power to cancel student debt by himself, but he would support Congress in passing a bill to cancel $10,000 of student loan debt for each borrower.
Recent polling of student loan borrowers found that around 90% are still not financially secure enough to resume their payments.