‘Do Your Part’ Before the May 1, Joe Biden Says to Student-loan Borrowers

As a Christmas gift, President Joe Biden extended relief for 43 million federal student loan borrowers for three more months.

Nonetheless, lawmakers and advocates agree that the extra time should be used for canceling student debt rather than allowing borrowers to prepare for returning payments on May 1.

According to the Education Department, student loan payments will resume on May 1 rather than February 1. The primary reason for this change is the Omicron Coronavirus variant.

As reported by Yahoo, unlike the previous announcement in August, this announcement did not specify whether it was a “final” extension, but Biden stressed in a statement that federal borrowers should use the extra time to prepare for 90-day repayment.

“As we are taking this action, I’m asking all student loan borrowers to do their part as well: take full advantage of the Department of Education’s resources to help you prepare for payments to resume; look at options to lower your payments through income-based repayment plans; explore public service loan forgiveness, and make sure you are vaccinated and boosted when eligible,” Biden told Americans in December.

Miguel Cardona, secretary of education, echoed that the department will “continue to provide tools and supports to borrowers so they can enter into the repayment plan that is responsive to their financial situation, such as an income-driven repayment plan.”

As a result of his election and the extension, Biden has already canceled nearly $12 billion in student debt for targeted groups, including those defrauded by for-profit schools. Despite this, some lawmakers and advocates said it’s not enough to resolve the $1.7 trillion crisis.

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Student Debt Cannot Crush Americans During Covid-19

Biden’s extension of the payment pause was applauded by lawmakers advocating student debt cancellation on a broad scale.

Congressional Democrats Chuck Schumer, Elizabeth Warren, and Ayanna Pressley stated in a statement that the pause would allow borrowers to “make ends meet.”

They further added that it would help borrowers afford basic necessities, but they still called for the loan forgiveness Biden promised during his campaign.

“We continue to call on President Biden to take executive action to cancel $50,000 in student debt, which will help close the racial wealth gap for borrowers and accelerate our economic recovery,” lawmakers announced.

Students in favor of forgiveness agreed with the latter notion. Student Debt Crisis Center president Natalia Abrams said that the Omicron variant is “a scary reminder that the pandemic is still a serious concern and Americans cannot be crushed by student debt as they shoulder this health and economic crisis.”

While Biden said he would approve $10,000 in student loans during his campaign, he has not complied with that promise so far, which some lawmakers believe could lead Democrats to lose the majority in the 2022 midterm elections.

Last month, New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez said it’s “actually delusional” to think Democrats can win re-election if they don’t tackle key voter concerns, like student debt.

In a “Face the Nation” interview late last month, Kamala Harris responded to advocates’ concerns about the issue, saying the administration must be “vigilant.” However, she did not provide a specific plan for borrowers to get relief.

“Well, I think that we have to continue to do what we’re doing and figure out how we can creatively relieve the pressure that students are feeling because of their student loan debt,” Harris stated in the interview.

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