210 Organizations Representing Millions of Students, Workers, People of Color, Veterans, People with Disabilities, and People of Faith Demand the Administration Keep Promises to People With Student Loan Debt
March 7, 2022 | WASHINGTON, D.C. — Today, 210 organizations called on President Biden to extend the pause on federal student loan payments for tens of millions of borrowers that is currently set to expire on May 1st. Advocates warn that resuming payments will throw borrowers back into a system plagued by mismanagement, corruption, and abuse, even as new data shows that borrowers are not financially prepared to restart payments. In light of these issues and ongoing uncertainty related to the COVID-19 pandemic, a rush to repayment without meaningful action to address the student debt crisis will undermine promises by the President and Vice President Harris to fix the student loan system and build back better.
A copy of the letter to President Biden can be found here:
In an interview last week, White House Chief of Staff Ronald Klain explained that the President is considering another extension of the student loan payment pause. There is a broad consensus among borrowers, advocates, industry, regulators, law enforcement officials, and policymakers that restarting student loan payments in May is a recipe for disaster unless it is accompanied by significant structural reforms and real, immediate debt relief.
“It is critical that your administration continue to deliver on your promises made to student loan borrowers and their families before ending the pause in payments and collections,” 210 organizations wrote to President Biden. “Borrowers need immediate relief from the crushing burdens of massive student loan debt as the pandemic exacerbates financial strain for all Americans and throws existing racial disparities in wealth and educational attainment into especially stark relief.”
Before the pandemic struck, tens of millions of borrowers struggled to navigate a badly broken student loan system. America’s student debt crisis wreaked havoc on the financial lives of families across the country, despite payment relief and debt forgiveness programs that promised that these debts would never be a life-long burden.
In the same interview, Klain acknowledged the extraordinary challenges facing people with student debt and claimed that “Joe Biden right now is the only president in history where no one’s paid on their student loans for the entirety of his presidency.” The more than 210 organizations that signed today’s letter agree that Biden should continue to be a president under which individuals are not forced to shoulder the weight of student loan debt.
No student loan borrower with a federally-held loan has been required to make a student loan payment since March 2020 when former President Donald Trump signed the CARES Act, pausing student loan payments and suspending interest charges for tens of millions of student loan borrowers. This set of protections was extended via executive actions in August 2020, December 2020, January 2021, August 2021, and December 2021. However, these protections are set to expire with payments to resume for federal student loans on May 1, 2022 unless Biden takes action again.
According to the latest tracking poll released by Data for Progress and the Student Borrower Protection Center, more than 6-in-10 likely voters with student debt expect to make “major changes to saving or spending” if student loan payments resume. In contrast, just 1-in-5 likely voters with student debt are “very confident” in their ability to resume making payments in May. These results underscore that extending the payment pause will offer tens of millions of families badly needed relief.
The Student Borrower Protection Center is a nonprofit organization focused on alleviating the burden of student debt for millions of Americans. The SBPC engages in advocacy, policymaking, and litigation strategy to rein in industry abuses, protect borrowers’ rights, and advance economic opportunity for the next generation of students.