The Biden administration is officially extending the student loan repayment freeze for another 90 days, after pressure from progressive Democrats in Congress, as well as civil rights groups.
“[O]n my very first day as President, I directed the Department of Education to pause federal student loan repayments through September. In August, my Administration once again extended the pause, through January 31, 2022,” said President Joe Biden in a White House press release Wednesday announcing the move. “That pause has given 41 million Americans badly-needed breathing room during the economic upheaval caused by the global COVID-19 pandemic.”
“[W]e know that millions of student loan borrowers are still coping with the impacts of the pandemic and need some more time before resuming payments. This is an issue Vice President Harris has been closely focused on, and one we both care deeply about,” Biden continued.
“Given these considerations, today my Administration is extending the pause on federal student loan repayments for an additional 90 days — through May 1, 2022 — as we manage the ongoing pandemic and further strengthen our economic recovery. Meanwhile, the Department of Education will continue working with borrowers to ensure they have the support they need to transition smoothly back into repayment and advance economic stability for their own households and for our nation.”
Biden ended his statement by encouraging student loan borrowers to take advantage of Department of Education resources to help them make payments once the freeze is ended, look at lowering their payment amounts through income-based plans, consider the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program, and of course, get vaccinated and boosted.
The Daily Wire reported earlier in the day Wednesday that the Biden administration was considering extending the repayment freeze because of concerns about the Omicron variant. The Daily Wire reported:
In March 2020, the CARES Act temporarily paused student debt repayments and pegged the federal student loan interest rate at 0% — a policy extended by both President Donald Trump and President Joe Biden. Last week, however, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki confirmed that “a smooth transition back into repayment is a high priority for the administration” — indicating that an extension of the pause beyond January 2022 could not be expected.
Nevertheless, a Tuesday statement from a Department of Education spokesperson indicated that the White House may once again delay student loan repayments.
“Since day one of the Biden Administration, we’ve been hard at work delivering meaningful relief to student loan borrowers,” the spokesperson told CNBC. “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.”
Any potential move toward student loan forgiveness would align with recent pressure from progressives, who have been urging Biden to suspend repayments — and cancel student debt altogether.
A number of progressive advocacy groups, including the American Civil Liberties Union, the NAACP, the American Federation of Teachers, and the American Association of University Professors, petitioned Biden to continue the pause or cancel student debt in a letter sent to the White House earlier this month, citing his campaign promise to cancel student debt and reform the student loan borrowing system. Progressive Democrats like Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY), even Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY), also pressured Biden to continue the freeze or cancel student debt.