Jan 20, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Biden will ask the Department of Education to extend student loan relief

A US flag flies above a building as students earning degrees at Pasadena City College participate in the graduation ceremony, June 14, 2019, in Pasadena, California.
A U.S. flag flies above a building as students graduate from California's Pasadena City College in June 2019. Photo: Robyn Beck / AFP

As part of his day one executive actions, President-elect Biden on Wednesday will ask the Department of Education to extend federal student loan relief, hoping to pause payments and interest accrual until at least Sept. 30.

Why it matters: The relief, in place since March due to the coronavirus pandemic, is set to expire Jan. 31 . The measures, which also include expanding forgiveness and income-based repayment programs, have helped tens of millions of borrowers handle the financial strain brought on by the public health crisis.

  • According to a Pew survey, conducted in August and September, 58% of borrowers said they would find it somewhat or very difficult to begin repaying their loans again in the next month.

What to watch: Wednesday's move is expected to be only the first step Biden takes to tackle the nearly $1.7 trillion student debt crisis and restart the economy.

  • "Alleviating the crushing financial burden of student debt" will be an immediate priority of the Biden administration, his team said last week.
  • Biden also supports "immediately" canceling $10,000 of federal student loan debt per borrower but it is unclear if he will do so through executive
  • But the president is facing pressure from some Democrats, including Sens. Chuck Schumer (N.Y), and Elizabeth Warren (Mass.) to cancel — through executive action — up to $50,000 in federal student debt for all borrowers.

Worth noting: Student debt forgiveness is not part of the $1.9 trillion stimulus package Biden outlined earlier this month.

🎧Go deeper: Biden's plan to forgive student debt

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