For more than two years, millions of federal student loan borrowers have been unable to repay their debts. The payment hold, though, is due to end on May 1, which is only 26 days away. Although there is no official word yet, there are rising indicators that Biden will prolong the student loan payment halt once more. This is the current state of affairs.
The CARES Act, passed by Congress in March 2020 in reaction to the Covid-19 pandemic, is to blame for the long-term suspension of most student loan payments (specifically for government-held federal student loans). The CARES Act’s student debt relief provisions also froze all collections attempts against borrowers in default on federal student loans and suspended interest accrual.
Activists, campaigners, and friends for student debt borrowers have stepped up the pressure on Biden to act. A broad coalition of over 200 civil rights, labour, and consumer protection organisations wrote to Biden last month requesting him to extend the payment hold, citing inflation and persistent economic instability as reasons. Hundreds of student loan borrowers descended to Washington, D.C. this week for a protest and march, urging Vice President Joe Biden to prolong the payment moratorium and cancel student loan debt through executive action.
Meanwhile, prominent Democratic lawmakers in Congress have been putting pressure on Biden to extend the payment suspension. Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY) is the Senate Majority Leader, and Senator Patty Murray (D-WA) is the Senate Chairperson. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY), Senator Patty Murray (D-WA), the Chair of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee, and House Majority Whip James Clyburn (D-SC), a major Biden supporter, are among those mentioned. Biden will need partners in Congress to get his agenda passed this year.