Biden Just Extended Student Loan Pause Until May Because of Omicron

After months of pressure, the Biden administration said Wednesday that it would extend its pause on student loan repayment to May 1.
President Joe Biden speaks at commencement exercises for South Carolina State University on Friday, December 17, 2021, in Orangeburg, South Carolina.
President Joe Biden speaks at commencement exercises for South Carolina State University on Friday, December 17, 2021, in Orangeburg, South Carolina. (AP Photo/Meg Kinnard)

Merry Christmas! If you aren’t currently paying back your federal student loans, you just got another extension before you have to start again.

After months of pressure from student debt–relief advocates for another moratorium on federal student loan payments, the Biden administration said Wednesday that it would extend its pause to May 1. Payments had been scheduled to begin again at the end of January, but the White House had revisited its deadline in recent weeks due to the arrival of the highly transmissible Omicron variant

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“We know that millions of student loan borrowers are still coping with the impacts of the pandemic and need some more time before resuming payments,” President Joe Biden said in a Wednesday statement. “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.”

“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,” Biden added. 

The pause was welcome news for student borrowers, who prior to the pandemic were paying an average of $393 per month for student loans, according to a letter sent to Biden from Sens. Elizabeth Warren and Chuck Schumer and Rep. Ayanna Pressley last month. Earlier this year, the Federal Reserve estimated that the nation’s borrowers owe more than $1.75 trillion in student debt. 

The Trump administration granted the initial pause in March 2020 as part of its early pandemic-relief efforts. The pause applies only to loans financed by the U.S. Department of Education, which covers more than 75% of borrowers and 80% of debt. About 9 million borrowers carrying more than $300 billion in student debt aren’t covered by the moratoriums, according to the Student Borrower Protection Center. 

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If you are eligible, you don’t need to do anything—just wait for the emails from the company processing your student loans that will inevitably come over the next few months telling you what you need to do when May 1 hits. 

Advocates for student debtors cheered the news while continuing to press the Biden administration to wipe out federal student debt through an executive order. 

“Extending the student loan payment pause is a major relief for millions of Americans during this pandemic,” Warren tweeted Wednesday. “I appreciate everyone who organized and pushed President Biden to take action, and I’m grateful he listened to our call.”

"This is a major win for the 45 million student debtors and their families," Braxton Brewington, a spokesperson for the debt union and activist organization the Debt Collective, said in a statement. "For at least a few more months, struggling families will be able to keep tens of billions of dollars in their pockets—costly student loan payments that the federal government continues to prove it doesn't need to function."

"With the stroke of a pen, Biden can dramatically boost the economy, narrow the racial wealth gap, keep a key campaign promise and deliver a much-needed jubilee for the 99 percent,” Brewington added.

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