Student loan borrowers ‘not ready to resume payments in May,’ Democrats say
- 43 Democrats have called on Biden to extend the student loan payment break until at least the end of the year.
- They said borrowers and the Department of Education were “unprepared” to resume payments in May.
- Many Democrats are stepping up pressure for Biden to provide additional relief to federal borrowers.
Another group of Democratic lawmakers just made their views known on student loan repayment: Borrowers shouldn’t be forced to pay off their debt in less than two months.
On Monday, 43 Democratic lawmakers, led by Rep. Conor Lamb of Pennsylvania, wrote a letter to President Biden asking him to extend the pause on student loan payments “at least until the end of this year.”
They cited a 2020 Department of Education report that noted the “heavy burden” accompanying the transition of millions of federal borrowers to repayment, and they wrote that while the economy has made progress in pandemic recovery , households across the country continue to experience financial hardship.
“For these reasons, we are concerned that the Department and borrowers are unprepared to resume payments in May,” the lawmakers wrote.
“Millions of borrowers have taken advantage of the pause in payments,” they added. “While progress has been made, we believe it is essential to continue working to mitigate the continued impact of the pandemic on families across the country. Therefore, we ask that you continue to suspend student loan repayments, at least until the end of this year.”
Student loan payments, with interest waived, have been on pause for more than two years, and Biden just extended that pause for the third time through May 1. But as that date rapidly approaches, Democrats in the House and Senate have sounded the alarm over sending 43 million federal borrowers into repayment too soon, despite Republicans criticizing additional relief for borrowers because of its cost to taxpayers and the economy.
Last week, for example, Senate Education Committee Chair Patty Murray released a statement calling on Biden to extend the payments pause until 2023 to give him time to “fix” the lending system for good. restoring defaulting borrowers to good standing and repairing defaults. loan cancellation programs, among others.
“The student loan system is broken,” Murray said. “It’s ruining lives and holding people back. Borrowers are grappling with rising costs, struggling to recover from public health and economic crises, and grappling with a student loan system down – and all of this is particularly felt by borrowers of color.”
The Government Accountability Office also recently noted the burden of restarting payments for millions of borrowers after a two-year pause. The Ministry of Education told the agency in a recent report that it will be “difficult to motivate” these borrowers to repay their debt, and it will also be a challenge for the ministry to facilitate outreach.
Biden has yet to comment on when, or if, additional relief will arrive, but White House Chief of Staff Ron Klain recently suggested that before May Biden would extend the payments pause for a fourth time. or would decide what kind of broad relief he can effect through executive action.