Democrats urge Biden administration to extend student loan payment pause

A group of Democrats is pushing the Biden administration to extend the pause on student loan payments, warning restarting payments would negatively impact Americans’ abilities purchase things like food or rent.

“Resuming student loan payments would force millions of borrowers to choose between paying their federal student loans or putting a roof over their heads, food on the table, or paying for childcare and health care—while costs continue to rise and while yet another COVID-19 variant increases hospitalizations nationwide,” the letter to President Biden and Education Secretary Miguel Cardona, which was signed by 100 Democrats in both chambers, said.

Payments are scheduled to resume on Sept. 1.

The letter — which was led by four Senate and three House Democrats — pointed to persistently high gas and food prices, high costs related to childcare and how COVID-19 pandemic has hit communities of color and female student loan borrowers harder. 

“Moreover, resuming student loan payments at this moment would further complicate administrative actions already underway or contemplated by the Department—which could contribute to unnecessary confusion for borrowers in the upcoming months,” the lawmaker said.

“Currently, many borrowers are in limbo as they await upcoming actions from the Department or their federal student loan servicer—either through the Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) waiver or through the one-time account adjustments announced by Ed on April 19, 2022 that would count past periods of forbearance or deferment,” they added.

The Democrats who led the letter are: Sens. Bob Menendez (N.J.), Cory Booker (N.J.), Elizabeth Warren (Mass.) and Chuck Schumer (N.Y.), as well as Reps. Lauren Underwood (Ill.), Tony Cárdenas (Calif.), and Ayanna Pressley (Mass.).

The White House has said that the president will make a decision toward the end of next month regarding whether to forgive student loans or extend the student loan payment pause.

“The Department of Education will continue to assess the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic and the economy on student loan borrowers. We will communicate directly with borrowers about the end of the payment pause when a decision is made,” a Department of Education spokesperson told The Hill earlier this week. 

The Hill has reached out to the White House and Education Department for comment.