Amid a Fierce Court Battle to Protect Student Debt Relief for Tens of Millions, President Biden Offers Breathing Room for Working Families
November 22, 2022 | WASHINGTON, D.C. — Moments ago the White House announced that President Biden will extend the federal student loan payment pause until June 30, 2023 or 60 days after the final disposition of the right-wing lawsuits seeking to block student debt cancellation. This announcement comes just one day after a coalition of more than 220 groups called on President Biden to take action to extend the payment pause and utilize every legal authority available to enact debt relief.
With today’s announcement, President Biden is telling borrowers that he will keep his promise to cancel student debt regardless of the outcome of these lawsuits. Should the Supreme Court reject conservative challenges to cancellation, the Administration is giving itself a two-month buffer to deliver relief for 40 million Americans before payments resume. Alternatively, this announcement opens a window for President Biden to cancel student debt using a different legal basis.
Statement from Student Borrower Protection Center Executive Director Mike Pierce:
“The Republican politicians set on keeping their constituents in debt should take note: borrowers made this happen and borrowers will continue to fight until student debt cancellation is won. We applaud President Biden for extending this pause on student loan payments now and for affirming his intent to cancel student debt in the months ahead.
“This extension means that struggling borrowers will be able to keep food on their tables during the holiday season—and the coming months—as the Administration does everything it can to beat back the baseless and backward attacks on working families with student debt. Win or lose, borrowers can depend on President Biden to keep his promise and deliver student debt relief.”
In a matter of weeks following President Biden’s historic student debt cancellation announcement, 26 million borrowers submitted applications– further evidence of the crushing burden this debt has had on workers and families from all walks of life. According to the Department of Education, 16 million borrowers have already been approved for relief.
As a result of overtly political lawsuits, tens of millions of borrowers are now left in economic limbo. Until recently, every federal court to consider one of these poorly crafted complaints had dismissed them for plaintiffs’ lack of standing. But in mid-November, a Trump-appointed judge in Brown v. U.S. Dep’t of Education issued an order vacating the cancellation program for all borrowers. Shortly after, the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals in Nebraska v. Biden issued an injunction halting the cancellation program while the six Republican-led states appealed a lower court’s dismissal of their complaint for lack of standing. Last week, the Department of Justice applied to the Supreme Court to vacate the national injunction. While these lawsuits make their way through the courts, millions of borrowers remain in limbo.
Student loan borrowers with a federally held loan have not been required to make a loan payment since March 2020, when President Trump signed the CARES Act, pausing student loan payments and suspending interest charges for tens of millions of borrowers. This critical lifeline was extended via executive actions taken by President Trump in August and December 2020, and by President Biden in January 2021, August 2021, December 2021, April 2022, and August 2022. It was set to expire with payments to resume for federal student loans on December 31, 2022.
When Biden announced his intent to restart student loan payments in January 2023, he explained that the Administration’s monumental debt relief plan was a necessary first step to protect borrowers and prevent disastrous loan defaults and other financial distress, particularly in light of the ongoing economic challenges facing our nation as a result of the pandemic.
Yesterday, a coalition of more than 220 organizations representing students, workers, and people of color called on President Biden to extend the pause on federal student loan payments which was set to expire on December 31, 2022, and utilize every legal authority available to enact debt relief.
A copy of the letter to President Biden can be found here:
SBPC’s Blog Calling for an Extension to the Payment Pause as a Civil Rights Issue: The End of the Payment Pause is a Civil Rights Issue
SBPC and NCLC’s Blog Highlighting New Revelations of Mismanagement and Abuse Compromising the Student Loan Safety Net: Explosive New Evidence of Mismanagement of Student Loan Program Shows Need for IDR Waiver
Op-Ed on the Need for a Fresh Start for Borrowers in Default: There’s a Fair and Humane Way to Restart Student Loan Repayments
SBPC Blog Analyzing Government Data on Borrowers in Default: ED Must Build Back a Better Student Loan System, and That Means Giving Borrowers a Second Chance
2021 SBPC and NCLC Letter Calling for a “Fresh Start” for Defaulted Borrowers: SBPC and NCLC Demand President Biden Give a Second Chance to Millions of Student Loan Borrowers in Default
Read the 2021 SBPC and NCLC Blog on Student Loan Default and the Child Tax Credit: Without Action, Millions of Families Will Be Denied Biden’s Top Anti-Poverty Lifeline Because of Student Loans
About Student Borrower Protection Center
The Student Borrower Protection Center (SBPC) 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.
Learn more at protectborrowers.org or follow SBPC on Twitter @theSBPC.