Even better than delaying final exams, the Biden administration is extending the moratorium on federal student loan payments through Jan. 31, 2022, averting a deadline that had been set for the end of this month.
But like a teacher cautioning that this would be the last warning, the Education Department said this would be the “final extension” of the moratorium, started by the Trump administration in March 2020.
Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) said that, far from the final extension, today’s action should be the first step in canceling student debt altogether.
Warren and other Democrats had been pressuring Biden over the summer to continue the moratorium, saying millions of borrowers were still suffering the financial effects of COVID-19.
Extend the pause
Warren, Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), Representative Ayanna Pressley (D-Mass.), and Representative Joe Courtney (D-Conn.) led their colleagues in a bicameral letter to President Biden last month, calling on him to extend the pause on federal student loan payments until at least March 31, 2022.
“President Biden should act quickly to pause payments and interest for federally-held student loans as our country continues to recover from the historic COVID-19 health and economic crisis,”said Schumer. “Failing to extend this pause would not only hurt our nation’s struggling students, but it could also impact future economic growth and recovery.”
The American Bar Association is among the organizations asking the Biden administration to take steps to relieve the burden of student loan debt, including by suspending or forgiving some of the debt.
In a June 8 letter, ABA President Patricia Lee Refo said the association appreciates congressional efforts to resolve the problem.
“But we also urge the executive branch to assist student loan borrowers by forgiving or canceling some level of debt,” Refo wrote.
Student debt is particularly high for law school graduates and others who earn professional degrees. A 2019 report by the Congressional Research Service found that students pursuing professional degrees owed, on average, more than $175,000 upon graduation.
Refo also suggested that the administration simplify the process and provide clearer eligibility requirements.