Dems Push Biden to Extend Student Loan Repayment Pause Month Before It Ends

Several Democrats in Congress wrote a letter to President Joe Biden urging him to extend the current pause on federal student loan payments until at least the end of the year.

The letter sent on Thursday requested the administration to push back the start date for students to begin repaying their student debt and to "provide meaningful student debt cancellation," which the lawmakers say should be done now. The letter was signed by eight Democrats.

Student loan repayments are expected to start again on May 1, after being postponed since 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The suspension paused loan repayments, applied a 0 percent interest rate to remaining balances and stopped collections on defaulted loans. Democrats urged the president to further pause student loan payments just last week after reports of a nearly 8 percent increase in consumer inflation in the 12 months that ended in February.

"Borrowers have benefited greatly from the ongoing payment pause, taking the opportunity to pay down other debt, relieve financial pressures from lost jobs or decreased earnings, and support their families' needs. Restarting repayment will financially destabilize many borrowers and their families, and will cause hardship for many who could not afford repayment," the letter read.

Approximately nine out of every 10 borrowers are not financially secure enough to begin making payments in May, according to the lawmakers, with many borrowers struggling to afford basic necessities like rent and health care. The pause on making federal student loan payments saved families an average of $393 per month, and most borrowers are not ready to pay another bill after prices for necessities like food and gas have drastically increased, the letter added.

"Borrowers choosing between paying for basic needs or their student loans often refer to their debt as a life sentence that will hamper their futures for decades," the letter read.

More than 43 million people have student loans, which accumulates to a total of $1.6 trillion in student loan debt. Some 4.4 million borrowers have been making repayments for over 20 years, the letter said. The average monthly payment for student loans is $460, and students commonly have more than $37,000 in federal loans in addition to others, according to the Education Data Initiative.

While running for office, President Biden said his administration would cancel $10,000 of student loan debt per borrower, but he has yet to act on these promises. During his State of the Union address earlier this month, he didn't mention student loan cancellations.

However, in 2021, the Education Department under the Biden administration did erase over $5.8 billion in student loan debt for over 300,000 borrowers living with serious disabilities. In 2022, the department identified 100,000 borrowers who were eligible for $6.2 billion in student debt forgiveness.

Update 3/31/22, 1:33 p.m. ET: This article was updated with additional information.

Student Loans
Democratic lawmakers have asked for President Joe Biden to push back payments on student loans. Above, Biden is pictured at a campaign event at the William "Hicks" Anderson Community Center in Wilmington, Delaware, on July 28, 2020. Andrew Caballero-Reynolds/ AFP)/Getty Images