With the federal student loan pause set to expire, President Joe Biden could be considering another extension at the very least. The Biden-Harris administration has not yet decided what to do about federal student loans, but NBC News reported that the president told loan servicers not to contact borrowers ahead of pause expiring.
Expiring at the end of August, the current student loan repayment pause was last extended by the president in April extended the pause in April. The clock is ticking for borrowers around the country. Restarting student loan payments amid recent price increases would not only be shortsighted politically, but it could also push more people into financial ruin.
When Biden extended the payment pause in April, some advocates applauded the move but also pushed the president to take meaningful action on canceling at least some student loan debt. Any action the president takes only applies to federal student loan debt; private loans are unaffected.
But groups like the Debt Collective called on Biden to “pick up the pen” and wipe out all student loan debt. Last summer, the Black-led 1000 Women Strong launched a student loan debt storytelling series featuring Black women.
“Canceling student debt will benefit Black women, but it will also alleviate an unrelenting pressure and obstacle for millions of other families across the country,” wrote 1000 Women Strong’s Executive Director Shakya Cherry-Donaldson. “Families that desire a greater quality of life will be given the opportunity to build wealth for themselves, their children, and the next generation — as well as a pathway to financial freedom.
Proponents of more moderate reforms, including Biden, suggest canceling $10,000 of student debt and fixing existing issues with income-driven repayment programs. Other considerations include making it easier for those who have public service experience to receive loan forgiveness, issues with loan servicing and fixing negative amortization.
But these issues alone do not address the crisis impacting millions of Americans.
Members of Congress have also encouraged the president to take decisive action on student loans, noting it’s something Biden can do that would not be subjected to gridlock in the Senate. Rep. Ayanna Pressley is among the many House members who have joined senate colleagues, including Sens. Warnock and Warren in calling on the president to take decisive action on student loan debt.
In March, Warnock was among a group of Democratic Senators that spoke about the need for people to directly lobby the president and the White House on this issue. The president has previously spoken about wanting to rebuild America’s middle class, and by many accounts alleviating the student loan debt burden would do just that.
The Education Trust recently published a brief about the weight of student debt on mental health, particularly among Black borrowers. The organization backs the call to cancel $50,000 of federal student debt per borrower without limitation on eligibility. It also encouraged different strategies to make college more affordable and improve income-driven repayment plans, re
“Black students are more likely to borrow, borrow more, and are more likely to struggle with repayment than their peers because they collectively have fewer resources due to the generational and ongoing effects of structural racism,” read a statement from Education Trust. “This debt burden has far-reaching financial consequences, and research also shows that student debt contributes to poor mental health.”