Student borrower activists and their allies this week stepped up a pressure campaign to convince President Biden to extend an ongoing pause on student loan repayments and enact broad student loan forgiveness. But time is running out for Biden to act.
Here is the latest.
Student loan payment suspension ends in less than four weeks
Most federal student loan repayments have been suspended for more than two years since March 2020, when Congress passed the CARES Act in response to the Covid-19 pandemic. The relief also froze interest on federal student loans held by the government and halted collection efforts against defaulting federal borrowers.
Originally slated to last six months, CARES Act student loan relief was extended several times by President Trump and then President Biden. Biden’s final extension is set to end on May 1.
Activists and student loan borrower allies increase pressure on Biden to sign into law student loan forgiveness
“Resuming costly student debt repayments after a two-year hiatus will likely be the worst policy decision ever made by the Biden administration,” said Braxton Brewington, spokesperson for the Debt Collective, a debtors’ union that champions debtors. student borrowers and one of today’s organizing action groups. “Biden has repeatedly touted plans to eliminate student debt on the campaign trail… At a time when costs to families are at an all-time high, time to write off student debt, close the wealth gap race and stimulating our economy has never been more urgent. ”
In one survey released last month by Data for Progress, more than six in 10 respondents expressed support for extending the student loan payment pause until the end of the year. Almost two-thirds of respondents to the same survey said they support at least some level of general student loan forgiveness. In another poll published last week by the same polling company, nearly 50% of respondents said adopting $10,000 to $50,000 in large student loan forgiveness would motivate them to vote in the November midterm elections. .
The Debt Collective has also threatened a nationwide student loan debt strike if Biden does not extend the student loan payment pause. The union called on borrowers to find legal ways to pay $0 off their federal student loans if payments resume, such as forbearing or applying for an income-based repayment plan if their income is low.
Congressional allies echoed calls from activists on the ground.
“Extending the student loan repayment pause and #CancellingStudentDebt would help millions of Americans, especially people of color, who are struggling to make ends meet,” tweeted House Majority Whip James Clyburn (D-SC), a key Biden ally, on Monday. “I proudly join nearly 100 of my colleagues in urging Administrator Biden to act quickly.”
“The student loan payment pause must be extended until at least 2023,” tweeted Senator Patty Murray (D-WA), chair of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee ( HELP). “With rising costs and pandemic reconstruction, now is not the time to start paying borrowers again.” Murray released a detailed plan last month calling on Biden to extend the payment pause for the rest of the year and then use that time to pass sweeping reforms to the federal student loan repayment and forgiveness programs.
Will Biden extend suspension of payments and cancel student debt?
So far, the Biden administration has not expressly signaled its intent, and federal student loan repayments are expected to resume in just 27 days. “Obviously a decision will have to be made” on student loan relief, noted senior White House officials last week. But it’s unclear if such a decision has already been made, and if so, when that information would be made public.
“The president is going to look at what we should do on student debt before the [payment] the break expires,” White House Chief of Staff Ronald Klain said in an interview with Pod Save America last month. “Whether or not there is executive action [on] canceling student debt when payments resume is a decision we will make before payments resume.
Further Reading on Student Loans
Student loan forgiveness: Top lawmakers urge Biden to forgive ‘significant’ amount of debt and extend payment suspension as polls show support
4 options for Biden to legally enact student loan forgiveness without Congress
Who qualifies for the $6 billion student loan forgiveness announced by the Biden administration
Biden should permanently abolish interest on student loans, says key senator