The Biden administration’s moratorium on student loan repayments was set to expire late January next year but the president announced a 90-day extension due to the omicron variant.
President Joe Biden announced Wednesday his administration will again extend the moratorium on federal student loan repayments through May 1 as the country sees a spike in COVID-19 cases and prepares for another pandemic winter.
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The newest 90-day extension comes as the U.S. grapples with the latest surge fueled by the omicron variant, especially as Americans start traveling for the holidays and case rates will inevitably keep jumping. The administration’s pause, a move that’ll be celebrated by progressives in his party, will give 44 million people more temporary relief from paying back student debt.
“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,” Biden said in a statement.
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“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 initially directed the Education Department to pause student loan repayments on his first day in office back in late January. That moratorium was set to last through September but in August, the president delayed payments through Jan. 31, 2022.
With the end date looming, the White House considered another extension over the past few days with the omicron variant and the economy top of mind. Borrowers will now have until May before repayment, interest accrual and collections resume.
On Wednesday, the president urged student loan borrowers to find ways to start preparing for the transition back to payments and to check out existing programs like the public service loan forgiveness.
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The issue of student debt has become a top priority for Democrats as progressives keep pushing Biden to use his executive powers to cancel federally held student debt. They want the administration to forgive up to $50,000 for each student loan borrower.
Biden – and other Democrats – have questioned whether he has the legal authority to cancel student debt on his own. He supports Congress passing legislation cancelling some student debt but such an effort wouldn’t have the votes to pass. During the 2020 presidential campaign, Biden said he would cancel up to $10,000 in student debt for every borrower.
Instead, his Education Department focused on strengthening current programs and made changes to the federal Public Loan Forgiveness Program, which gives debt relief to those in public service jobs like teachers and firefighters.
Tags: Joe Biden, student loans, coronavirus, pandemic