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Biden considers extending break from repaying student loans

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The Biden administration is considering whether to continue excusing about 40 million Americans from making payments on their student loans during the pandemic, an Education Department spokeswoman confirmed to The Washington Times.

The department will make a decision later this week, said the spokesman, Kelly Leon.

An extension would be the fourth for those with student loans, who have not had to make payments since Congress and President Trump gave them a break as part of the CARES Act in March of 2020.

Borrowers were originally supposed to start making payments again six months later, but with advocacy groups saying that borrowers were struggling financially during the pandemic, Mr. Trump extended the pause twice, through Jan. 31.

Mr. Biden continued the pause another year. But with the loan payments set to resume on Jan. 31, 2022, he has been pushed by advocacy groups to keep excusing borrowers from making payments.

Another extension will likely be opposed by the top Republicans on the House and Senate education committees. Rep. Virginia Foxx and Sen. Richard Burr, both of North Carolina, wrote Education Secretary Miguel Cardona in June urging him not to extend the pause, which cost the federal government $40 billion in 2020 and to instead create a plan for resuming the repayments.

“Another extension of the temporary pandemic student loan benefit would be unnecessary and actively work against the interests of students and taxpayers,” they wrote.

Mr. Biden has disappointed groups on the left who have wanted him to wipe away all student debt The administration has instead focused on certain groups, making it easier, for example, for teachers and others to have their debt canceled through an existing Public Service Loan Forgiveness program.

Groups praised the announcement about another pause, saying the administration hasn’t given borrowers clarity over whether they will have to start making payments again next month.

“The welcomed news follows months of resistance from the administration which had caused confusion, uncertainty, and fear for millions of Americans facing a financial cliff if payments resumed,” said Cody Hounanian, executive director of the Student Debt Crisis Center.

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