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President Joe Biden announced Monday that he would not extend a moratorium on student loan repayment. The moratorium, put in place by the Trump administration at the start of the pandemic, will expire February 1, 2022. The decision means current borrowers will have to re-start loan repayment in February.
White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki told reporters the administration “will release more details” in the next few weeks.
“We will engage directly with federal student loan borrowers to ensure they have the resources they need and are in the appropriate repayment plan,” Psaki said.
She added that “a smooth transition back into repayment is a high priority for the administration.”
The announcement has angered many Biden supporters who have long advocated for student loan forgiveness. Biden himself campaigned on a promise to reduce student loan debt by $10,000, but has yet to do so.
Democrats urge president to extend moratorium and cancel more student loan debt
Cori Bush, a progressive congresswoman from St. Louis, took to Twitter to warn Democrats about the political consequences of Biden’s action.
“A note to Democrats who blame progressives after losing an election,” Bush wrote, “forcing millions to start paying student loans again and cutting off the Child Tax Credit at the start of an election year is not a winning strategy. We’re warning you now, don’t point fingers in November.”
Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) also called on President Biden to take action on student loan debt. In an interview on CNN, Warren noted that the “overwhelming majority” of Americans with student loan debt “are not ready” to going back to making payments.
Warren urged Biden to “pause student loan repayments and get student loan debt canceled.”
Senator Warren said the president “could cancel $50,000 of student loan debt” immediately. “All you got to do is pull out a piece of paper and a pen and get it done.”
Some debt canceled, but vast majority of Americans still waiting for relief
The administration has eased restrictions on Public Service Loan Forgiveness programs to support individuals in public service roles. Additionally, Biden has reduced student loan debt students from ITT Technical Institutes. The president also eliminated $5.8 Billion in debt under the Total and Permanent Disability discharge program. While these steps support roughly 650,000 Americans with debt forgiveness, tens of millions have yet to see relief.
The US Department of Education is already sending reminders to borrowers that payments are coming due soon, however it may not be enough for some. Prior to the pandemic, more than one in ten Americans were defaulting on their debts. Concerns are rising that without additional support, these numbers could increase significantly come February.
“Students should not have this burden placed on their shoulders,” Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) said in a press conference last week. “This debt is just overwhelming for people.”
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