Student Loan Forgiveness: Top Lawmakers Urge Biden To Cancel “Meaningful” Amount Of Debt And Extend Payment Pause As Polls Show Support

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With millions of borrowers on track to resume repayment on their student loans in just over 30 days, top lawmakers in Congress wrote to President Biden on Thursday urging him to extend the payment pause to the end of the year and enact broad student loan forgiveness through executive action.

Top Democrats Urge Biden To Extend Payment Pause and Cancel Student Debt

“We are writing to urge you to act now to extend the pause on federally-held student loan payments until at least the end of the year and to provide meaningful student debt cancellation,” wrote several Democratic lawmakers including Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D -NY), Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), and Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-WA) who chairs the House Progressive Caucus.

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“The payment pause has been a significant federal investment throughout the pandemic, providing essential relief to millions of families during the economic and public health crisis and saving them an average of $393 per month,” they wrote. “Restarting repayment will financially destabilize many borrowers and their families, and will cause hardship for many who could not afford repayment.”

Federal student loan payments have been paused due to the pandemic since March 2020, and are scheduled to resume on May 1. Hundreds of student loan borrower advocacy groups and Democratic lawmakers have been calling on Biden to extend the pause again in light of historic inflation and sky-high gas prices.

The lawmakers also called on Biden to use executive action to enact broad student loan forgiveness. “Canceling a meaningful amount of student debt will provide long-term benefits to individuals and the economy, helping families buy their first homes, open a small business, or invest in their retirement,” they wrote. “More broadly, canceling student debt would add tens of billions of dollars in GDP growth. Canceling student debt is one of the most powerful ways to address racial and economic equity issues.”

Subtle Change in Messaging on Student Loan Forgiveness

Interestingly, the lawmakers did not urge Biden to cancel a specific amount of federal student loan debt — a departure from their previous calls for Biden to cancel $50,000 in student loan debt for every borrower. The subtle change in messaging suggests an acknowledgment that Biden may be reluctant to cancel such high amounts of student loan debt, but could be more open to smaller amounts of student loan forgiveness. Biden did say he would support $10,000 in student loan forgiveness for every borrower during his presidential campaign.

The lawmakers also indicated an openness to the mechanism that would enact broad student loan cancellation. “Although there may be different ideas about the best way to structure cancellation, we all agree that you should cancel student debt now,” they wrote. Indeed, President Biden may have several different legal options for enacting broad student loan forgiveness, and the lawmakers seem to be deferring to the Biden administration to utilize the method that officials would be most comfortable with.

Polling Shows Broad Support For Student Loan Forgiveness

Surveys shows generally broad support for at least some amount of broad student loan forgiveness and additional relief.

A poll released last month by the Student Borrower Protection Center (SBPC) and Data for Progress indicated that borrowers continue to worry about their ability to resume repayment. 63% of” to expect “major changes their savings or spending habits once federal student loan payments resume in the spring. And over 60% of borrowers expressed support for extending the student loan payment pause to the end of the year. 64% of in the same survey said they supported cancelling at least some amount of student loan debt for every borrower.

In another poll released this week by Data for Progress, nearly have of indicated that enacting anywhere from $10,000 to $50,000 in broad student loan forgiveness would motivate them to vote in the midterm elections later this year.

Will Biden Act And Cancel Student Debt?

Top White House officials have indicated that executive action to extend the student loan payment pause and cancel student loan debt is indeed under consideration.

“The President is going to look at what we should do on student debt before the [payment] pause expires,” said White House Chief of Staff Ronald Klain in an interview with Pod Save America earlier in March. “Whether or not there is some executive action [on] student debt forgiveness when the payments resume is a decision we’re going to take before the payments resume.”

The lawmakers referenced Klain’s comments in their letter to Biden, writing that his statement was “encouraging” for borrowers. But, “Given the fast-approaching deadline for borrowers to resume payments,” they wrote, “Your administration must act as quickly as possible to extend the pause and make clear to the American public your intention to cancel a meaningful amount of student debt. “

Further Student Loan Reading

4 Options For Biden To Legally Enact Student Loan Forgiveness Without Congress

Who Qualifies For $6 Billion In Student Loan Forgiveness Announced By Biden Administration

Biden Should Permanently Abolish Student Loan Interest, Says Key Senator

Thousands Of Jobs Qualify For Expanded Student Loan Forgiveness Program


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