Democrats urge Biden to extend moratorium on student loan payments
Congressional Democrats are calling on President Biden to extend a moratorium on student loan payments for at least six months beyond the upcoming October deadline.
In a Wednesday letter led by Sen. Elizabeth Warren (Mass.), Democratic lawmakers urged Biden to postpone loan repayment collections until March 31 or until “the economy reaches pre-pandemic employment levels, whichever is longer.”
Shortly after taking office, Biden extended a previous freeze on federal student loan payments until October, citing the financial burdens brought on by the coronavirus pandemic.
“The suspension of payments and interest during the pandemic has provided essential relief to borrowers and their families during this economic and public health crisis. Restarting payments, however, will present a significant challenge for borrowers, loan servicers, and the Department of Education (ED), and we urge you not to let the payment pause lapse when borrowers are still depending on this financial relief,” the lawmakers wrote.
“We urge you to act quickly to extend the current pause on payments and interest so that borrowers are not penalized and student debt payments do not drag down the pace of our economic recovery,” they added.
In addition to Warren, the letter was signed by Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) and Reps. Ayanna Pressley (D-Mass.) and Joe Courtney (D-Conn.).
The lawmakers pointed out that the pandemic has disproportionately affected women and people of color who borrow more in order to attend college and tend to have a harder time paying off student loans. They argued that lifting the freeze of federal student loan payments would negatively impact those groups the most.
“This decision cannot be delayed. Borrowers, ED, and loan servicers will need time to prepare for any changes to the current situation, including the scheduled resumption of payments and interest,” they wrote.
The Hill has reached out to the White House for comment.
In April, Biden asked the Department of Education to review whether he has the authority to cancel student loans. On the campaign trail last year, Biden proposed forgiving a minimum of $10,000 per borrower.
Warren has long advocated for student loan reform, making it one of the pillars of her 2020 presidential campaign. She is now reportedly stalling the confirmation of Biden’s nominee for under secretary of Education, James Kvaal, in order to secure a commitment on action toward student loans.
Updated at 2:53 p.m.