The Biden administration is extending its student loan payment hiatus — which was due to expire at the end of the year — until 2023, while its promise of federal relief remains pending in court.
Payments will resume 60 days after the debt forgiveness program is implemented, 60 days after the lawsuits are resolved, or 60 days after June 30, if the process fails.
Borrowers have been more or less free for federal student loan payments since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic in early 2020. The repayment pause has since been extended several times, and Biden’s previous extension to Dec. 31 would be the last.
Tuesday’s extension, the White House said, will ease uncertainty for borrowers as the administration asks the Supreme Court to review lower court orders blocking Biden’s student debt relief program.
“I am confident our student debt relief plan is legal. But it is on hold because Republican officials want to block it,” Biden tweeted. “That’s why [Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona] extends the payment break until at the latest [60 days after] June 30, 2023, giving the Supreme Court time to hear the case in its current term.”
I am confident that our student debt relief plan is legal. But it’s on hold because Republican officials want to block it.
— President Biden (@POTUS) November 22, 2022
Biden announced his plan to ease up to $10,000 in federal student loans in August for low-to-middle-income borrowers — up to $20,000 for eligible Pell Grant recipients — but quickly ran into Republican opposition.
And earlier this month, a federal judge in Texas ruled Biden’s program illegal, though the Justice Department has appealed the decision. In addition, in a separate lawsuit, a federal appeals court issued a relief order from Biden on behalf of six states, which argued that financial institutions would be harmed if borrowers failed to pay their outstanding balances.
The Biden administration asked the Supreme Court to investigate the matter in hopes of getting the program through.
In a statement Tuesday, Education Secretary Miguel Cardona called Republican efforts to block aid “callous” and “plain wrong.”
“I want borrowers to know that the Biden-Harris administration is behind them and that we are more committed than ever to fighting for essential student debt forgiveness for tens of millions of Americans,” Cardona said.