Jul 27, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Top Democrats call for Biden to extend student loan pause, cancel $50k per borrower

Chuck Schumer
Chuck Schumer. Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), joined by Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and Rep. Ayanna Pressley (D-Mass.), on Tuesday called on President Biden to extend the moratorium on student loan payments and cancel $50,000 per borrower.

Why it matters: Americans owe about $1.6 trillion in student loans and the current pause on payments will end on Sept. 30, leaving more than 3o million people to begin making student loan repayments in October even as the pandemic continues.

Flashback: The federal student loan moratorium started in March 2020 as part of the CARES Act and has already been extended multiple times.

  • Biden has previously indicated that he would be willing to cancel no more than $10,000 per borrower.
  • Earlier this month the administration canceled $55.6 million in student loan debt for victims of a for-profit college fraud

The big picture: Schumer urged the president to give people a "chance to recover" from the pandemic, and "wait till the Spring" to unfreeze the moratorium.

  • The average borrower has to make a monthly payment of $400, which Schumer termed "much too much."
  • All three lawmakers framed the extension of the moratorium as a first step, to be followed by canceling $50,000 per borrower.
  • Schumer noted that resuming payments would stall the country's economic recovery and "could bring millions of borrowers to the edge of financial crisis.”
  • Wiping out student loan debt would help close the racial wealth gap, Schumer added.

What they're saying: The student loan moratorium has “proven to be one of the most effective steps that the government has taken to help Americans get through the health and economic crisis created by COVID-19," said Schumer.

  • “To make borrowers repay their debts now would be unfair, would be harsh, in many instances would be cruel," he added.
  • “The size of these payments for many borrowers is the size of their rent, their car payments, groceries, child care," Warren said, adding that many borrowers "live with a sword above their heads."
  • "This is a matter of economic justice, it is a matter of racial justice," Warren added.
  • “Failure to act would be unconscionable," Pressley said.
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