WASHINGTON D.C. — The Biden administration has extended a student loan moratorium through May 1, giving borrowers an additional three months before repayments start back up.
Under the action, payments on federal student loans will remain paused, debt collection efforts will be suspended and interest rates will remain at 0 percent.
The moratorium was originally set to expire on Jan. 31.
President Biden said that financial recovery from the pandemic will take longer than job recovery, especially for Americans with student loans.
“Given these considerations, today my administration is extending the pause on federal student loan repayments for an additional 90 days — through May 1, 2022 — as we manage the ongoing pandemic and further strengthen our economic recovery,” he said. “Meanwhile, the Department of Education will continue working with borrowers to ensure they have the support they need to transition smoothly back into repayment and advance economic stability for their own households and for our nation.”
The policy applies to more than 36 million Americans who have student loan debt that collectively totals more than $1.37 trillion. About a third of borrowers are in default or delinquency and the average monthly payment is $400 a month.
Officials said that the pause also helps the nearly 5 million borrowers currently in school who are not yet paying loans back.
Education Secretary Miguel Cardona said that the extension will allow for repayment plans responsive to the financial needs of students.
The Trump administration had originally suspended the student loan repayments in March 2020 and later extended it through January 2021. While Biden continued it, the Education Department has raised concerns about the effects of suddenly restarting payments, both for students and administratively within the department.
Some Democrats are still pushing for mass forgiveness of debt, but Biden has questioned whether he has the authority for that kind of mass cancellation and legal scholars differ. Biden has asked the Education and Justice Departments to study the issue, which they say is still underway.
Biden had previously said that he supports cancelling up to $10,000 in student debt, but he has argued that it should be done by Congress.
“As we prepare for the return to repayment in May, we will continue to provide tools and support to borrowers so they can enter into the repayment plan that is responsive to their financial situation, such as an income-driven repayment plan,” Cardona said.
Borrowers will receive a billing statement or other notice at least 21 days before their payment is due, but those who had set up auto payments may need to notify their loan servicing company if they want those to continue.
If borrowers can no longer afford their monthly payment, they may be eligible for different payment options available through their loan servicing company.
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