WASHINGTON—The Biden administration announced Friday afternoon that it is extending the pause on federal student loan repayments until January of next year, as the delta variant of the coronavirus surges across the country.
“As our nation’s economy continues to recover from a deep hole, this final extension will give students and borrowers the time they need to plan for restart and ensure a smooth pathway back to repayment,” U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona said in a statement.
The administration previously had a freeze on student loan repayment until Sept. 30, but announced it will make one last extension until Jan. 31, 2022.
Democrats welcomed the pause, but criticized the administration for not providing more relief for student loan borrowers by canceling student debt.
“While this temporary relief is welcome, it doesn’t go far enough,” Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, (D-N.Y.); Sen. Elizabeth Warren, (D-Mass.); and Rep. Ayanna Pressley, (D-Mass.), said in a statement.
They re-upped their calls for President Joe Biden to cancel up to $50,000 of student loan debt.
“Student debt cancellation is one of the most significant actions that President Biden can take right now to build a more just economy and address racial inequity,” they said. “We look forward to hearing the administration’s next steps to address the student debt crisis.”
However, House Education and Labor Committee Chairman Bobby Scott, (D-Va.), in a statement praised the administration for its extension.
“Throwing federal student loan borrowers back into loan repayment this fall would affect millions of workers and families who are just starting to get back on their feet,” he said.
“By extending this pause, the Biden-Harris Administration will help continue the momentum of our economic recovery and give student loan borrowers the time they need to boost their financial security before restarting loan repayment.”
The Federal Reserve estimates that the total student loan debt in the U.S. is more than $1.7 trillion. At a February town hall in Wisconsin, an attendee asked Biden what he would do to cancel up to $50,000 in student debt. He said he “will not make that happen,” and instead proposed free community college and government forgiveness programs.
According to one survey, about 82% of Nevada borrowers said that the payment pause is critical to their financial wellbeing. Another 78% said they currently depend on Covid-19 relief for federal student loans.
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