Updated Aug 6, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Biden extends COVID relief for student debt through January 2022

Photo of Joe Biden in a tan suit and sunglasses walking on grass

Photo: Bloomberg/Contributor via Getty Images

The Biden administration has extended pandemic relief for student debt through Jan. 31, 2022, the Department of Education announced on Friday.

Driving the news: The Education Department said it's the final extension of the freeze on federal loan payments, which has maintained a 0% interest rate and pause on collections of defaulted loans. The current moratorium on payments was originally scheduled to end on Sept. 30.

  • Americans owe about $1.6 trillion in student loans. Without an extension, more than 3o million people would've had to start making student loan repayments in October, even as the pandemic raged on.

Details: The agency noted that the additional time and definitive end date will give borrowers room to plan ahead and reduce the risk of delinquency or defaults.

  • Federal officials will also move to improve student loan servicing in an attempt to help borrowers transition back into repayment, per the department.

What they're saying: "The payment pause has been a lifeline that allowed millions of Americans to focus on their families, health, and finances instead of student loans during the national emergency," Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona said in a statement.

  • "As our nation’s economy continues to recover from a deep hole, this final extension will give students and borrowers the time they need to plan for restart and ensure a smooth pathway back to repayment," Cardona added.
  • "It is the Department’s priority to support students and borrowers during this transition and ensure they have the resources they need to access affordable, high quality higher education."

The big picture: Top Democrats have called on President Biden to extend the student loan pause for weeks, urging him to cancel $50,000 per borrower.

  • The administration has canceled over $55.6 million in student loan debt for victims of for-profit college fraud.
  • The Education Department says it has also approved $1.5 billion in borrower defense claims and reinstated $1.3 billion in loan discharges.
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