Biden extends student loan repayment pause until Aug. 31, saying US 'still recovering' from COVID-19

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President Biden announced the extension of a freeze on student debt payments, citing the continued economic hardships brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The White House said Wednesday the Biden administration would be pausing requirements for student debt payments through Aug. 31 of this year. Biden said in a statement the U.S. is "still recovering" from the years-long coronavirus pandemic, necessitating further leniency on loan payments.

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Biden campaigned on canceling up to $10,000 in student debt per borrower, but the progressive wing of the Democratic Party has called on him to cancel up to $50,000. Former President Donald Trump first issued a freeze on repayments in 2020.

"If loan payments were to resume on schedule in May, analysis of recent data from the Federal Reserve suggests that millions of student loan borrowers would face significant economic hardship, and delinquencies and defaults could threaten Americans’ financial stability," Biden said.

President Biden speaks during an event about the Affordable Care Act at the White House, Tuesday, April 5, 2022.  (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster / AP Newsroom)

In the run-up to his inauguration, Biden said there should be "immediate" congressional action on student loans, after Democrats suggested he should sign an executive order to forgive student debt.

"Immediate $10,000 forgiveness of student loans, helping people up there in real trouble," Biden said in 2020. "They’re having to make choices between paying their student loan and paying the rent. Those kinds of decisions." The comments came after Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y.,  urged Biden to bypass Congress and cancel billions of dollars in student loan debt through executive action. 

However, Biden has continued to kick the can down the road, repeatedly dismissing direct action on the issue and instead suggesting a congressional action.

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Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., told FOX Business that Biden's stalled follow-through on student debt relief is driving down his poll numbers with voters.

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez spoke with FOX Business’ Hillary Vaughn on President Biden and student loan forgiveness, Friday, April 1, 2022. (  / FOXBusiness)

"It's actually young people who have not really been served," Ocasio-Cortez said. "And their priorities were in BBB, which Sen. [Joe] Manchin has essentially stalled. And yet, you know, student loan debt and significant forgiveness of student loans, what the president can do to serve them."

However, the representative left the decision up to the president.

"But, you know, whatever, whatever the president decides, he's going to decide," Ocasio-Cortez said. "But this is squarely in his jurisdiction. It actually doesn't take an act of Congress to forgive student loan debt."

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