President Joe Biden Urges Student Loan Debtors to ‘Play a Role’ in Preparing for Payments to Resume on May 1

Earlier this month, President Joe Biden presented a Christmas gift to 43 million federal student loan borrowers in the form of three additional months of loan forgiveness.

Even while the president has stated that borrowers should use the extra time to prepare for payments to resume on May 1, several lawmakers and advocates have stated that the time should be used to cancel student loans instead.

Students’ loan payments will resume on May 1 instead of February 1, according to a statement released by the Education Department on December 22. The department cited the Omicron coronavirus variant as the primary reason for the change.

The announcement did not clarify whether this was the “last” extension, in contrast to an announcement in August, but Biden encouraged federal borrowers to use the extra time to prepare for payback in 90 days, which is due in 90 days.

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Biden said in December that “as we take this action, I’m asking all student loan borrowers to do their part as well.”

He encouraged them to “take full advantage of Department of Education resources to help you prepare for payment resume; look into 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.”

Ed. Sec. Miguel Cardona agreed, adding that the department will “continue to give tools and supports to borrowers so that they can engage into the repayment plan which is responsive to their financial position, such as an income-driven repayment plan,” according to a statement.

This extension comes on top of the almost $12 billion in student debt that Biden has canceled for selected groups of borrowers, such as those who were scammed by for-profit colleges, since he became president in January. However, campaigners and some lawmakers argue that this is insufficient to address the $1.7 trillion crisis.

During COVID-19, President Barack Obama stated that “Americans cannot be crushed by college debt.”

Biden’s decision to extend the payment halt was praised by senators who support widespread student loan forgiveness.

Despite the fact that the pause allowed borrowers to “make ends meet” and afford basic necessities, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren, and Massachusetts Rep. Ayanna Pressley said in a statement that they still want Biden to follow through on his campaign promise of loan forgiveness.

President Biden should take unilateral action to erase $50,000 in student debt, the congressmen said. “This would help bridge the racial wealth gap for borrowers and speed our economic recovery,” the lawmakers urged.

Advocates for student loan forgiveness were unanimous in their support. “The Omicron variation is a frightening reminder that the pandemic is still a significant worry,” Natalia Abrams, head of the Student Debt Disaster Center, said in a statement.

Americans must not be crushed by student debt as they bear this health and economic crisis.

Since taking office, Vice President Joe Biden has pledged to approve $10,000 in student loan forgiveness, but he has not followed through on that commitment, prompting concern among some politicians that Democrats may lose their congressional majorities in the upcoming 2022 midterm elections.

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According to New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, it is “really absurd” to believe that Democrats can win re-election if they do not address voters’ top concerns, such as student debt, as recently as last month.

Late last month, Vice President Kamala Harris reacted to the concerns of advocates in an appearance on CBS’s “Face the Nation,” in which she stated that the administration must be “vigilant” on the issue, but she did not provide any specifics on how debtors may receive relief.

In Harris’ opinion, “we should keep doing what we’re doing and figure out how we can creatively reduce the burden that students are feeling as a result of their student loan debt.”

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