Facing Scrutiny, Biden Administration Extends Student Loan Pause Until May

On Wednesday, the Biden administration announced that it is extending the pause on student loan payments through May 1 – a sharp reversal of its previous stance, likely due to increased pressure from debt cancellation advocates as the Omicron variant of COVID-19 sweeps the U.S.

“We know that millions of student loan borrowers are still coping with the impacts of the pandemic and need some more time before resuming payments,” President Joe Biden said in a statementAn announcement of the extension of 90 days.

Prior to February 1, payments were set to resume. The Education Department extended the payment freeze for the last time. in August, the agency said that it was the “final extension.” Earlier this month, Jen Psaki, Press Secretary, stated that “a smooth transition back into repayment is a high priority for the administration.”

Psaki’s statement sparked fury from progressive lawmakers and debt activists who have been pressuring Biden to take action on student debt relief since he took office – whether in the form of a pause extension, loan forgiveness or both.

Debt cancellation advocates celebrated the Biden administration’s move on Wednesday, and amplified their calls for further action.

“This is a major win for 45 million student debtors and their families,” Debt Collective spokesperson Braxton Brewington said in a statement. “Next, the Biden administration should permanently relieve this financial burden on families and the economy by using his executive authority to eliminate all federal student debt.”

The extension was also celebrated by progressive lawmakers. “Extending the student loan payment pause is a major relief for millions of Americans during this pandemic. I appreciate everyone who organized and pushed President Biden to take action, and I’m grateful he listened to our call,” wrote Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Massachusetts). “Next, [Biden] should #CancelStudentDebt.”

Representatives Ayanna Pressley (D-Massachusetts) Mondaire Jones (D-New York)Biden was also asked to cancel student debt.

On the campaign trail, Biden promised to cancel up to $10,000 in debt for each borrower – but even though legal experts, debt advocatesAnd possibly even an unreleased memo His own Education DepartmentWhile some have argued that the president has the legal authority, with the only power of the executive branch to cancel student debt, he has sofar refused to do so. Instead, his administration been shiftingThe blame lies with Congress, which is free from any responsibility.

According to Insider reporter Ayelet Sheffey, Vice President Kamala Harris said in an interview set to air on Sunday that the administration must “figure out how we can creatively relieve the pressure that students are feeling because of their student loan debt” in anticipation of the 2022 midterm elections. Democrats are facing bleak midterm predictions. The loss of income from millions borrowers, despite promising to address the issue, will likely only make things worse.

Debt relief is becoming more urgent for many borrowers. A recent report was done for Warren and Senate Majority leader Chuck Schumer (D. New York), leading advocates of student debt relief. Restarting paymentsCollectively, this will result in borrowers losing $85 billion annually. According to the Federal Reserve estimates, borrowers currently hold $85 billion. $1.75 trillion in debtStudent loan debt is a huge burden on the economy.

Survey data from the Student Debt Crisis Center found that the vast majority of borrowers – about 89 percent – say they aren’t prepared for payments to restart, with many survey respondents reporting that payments would take away a third or even half of their income.

Many people with loans are still under pressure even though there is a 90-day extension. The payment pause extension may be extended temporarily lighten the financial load for families who are also facing the end of the expanded child tax credit due to Sen. Joe Manchin’s (D-West Virginia) Unceremonious DeathThe Build Back Better Act.

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-New York) said on Instagram on TuesdayThe administration is being influenced by public pressure regarding student loans. “They were IRONCLAD about restarting payments in Jan as recently as a week ago,” she pointed out.

Lawmakers and advocatesAfter a spokesperson from the Education Department suggested that the administration was not taking action on student loans, the students had stepped up their calls for Biden’s intervention. considering the extensionThis week. “Today would be a great day for President Biden Vice President Harris to #CancelStudentDebt,” Schumer wrote on Twitter. Democrats like Sen. Jeff Merkley (Oregon) and Rep. Adriano Espaillat (New York)The urgency of debt forgiveness was also highlighted.