President Joe Biden asks student-loan borrowers to 'do their part' in preparing for payments to resume on May 1 as pressure for broad cancellation ramps up again

President Joe Biden asks student-loan borrowers to 'do their part' in preparing for payments to resume on May 1 as pressure for broad cancellation ramps up again
President Joe Biden.Drew Angerer/Getty Images
  • Biden extended a student-loan-payment pause an additional three months through May 1.
  • He said borrowers should use this extra time to prepare for the resumption of payments.

President Joe Biden gave 43 million federal student-loan borrowers a Christmas gift of three additional months of relief last month.

While the president said borrowers should use that extra time to prepare for payments to resume on May 1, some lawmakers and advocates said it should instead be used to cancel student debt.

On December 22, the Education Department announced it will be moving the date student-loan payments are scheduled to resume from February 1 to May 1, citing the Omicron coronavirus variant as the primary reason for the change. While this announcement did not specify whether it would be the "final" extension, contrasting the announcement in August, Biden urged federal borrowers in a statement to use the extra time to prepare for repayment in 90 days.

"As we are taking this action, I'm asking all student loan borrowers to do their part as well: take full advantage of the Department of Education's resources to help you prepare for payments to resume; look at options to lower your payments through income-based repayment plans; explore public service loan forgiveness; and make sure you are vaccinated and boosted when eligible," Biden said in December.

Education Secretary Miguel Cardona echoed that sentiment, saying in a statement the department will "continue to provide tools and supports to borrowers so they can enter into the repayment plan that is responsive to their financial situation, such as an income-driven repayment plan."


This extension comes alongside the nearly $12 billion in student debt Biden has canceled for targeted groups of borrowers, such as those defrauded by for-profit schools, since he took office. But advocates and some lawmakers say it's not enough to tackle the $1.7 trillion crisis.

'Americans cannot be crushed by student debt' during COVID-19

Leading lawmakers on broad student-debt cancellation applauded Biden's extension of the payment pause. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren, and Massachusetts Rep. Ayanna Pressley said in a statement that the pause allowed borrowers to "make ends meet" and afford basic necessities, but they still want Biden to deliver on his campaign promise of loan forgiveness.

"We continue to call on President Biden to take executive action to cancel $50,000 in student debt, which will help close the racial wealth gap for borrowers and accelerate our economic recovery," the lawmakers said.

Student-loan forgiveness advocates agreed. Natalia Abrams, president of the Student Debt Crisis Center, said in a statement the Omicron variant is "a scary reminder that the pandemic is still a serious concern and Americans cannot be crushed by student debt as they shoulder this health and economic crisis."

While Biden promised during his campaign to approve $10,000 in student-loan forgiveness, he has yet to fulfill that promise, and some lawmakers said it could cost Democrats the majority in the 2022 midterm elections. New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez said last month that it's "actually delusional" to think Democrats can get re-elected if they don't act on priorities for voters, like student debt.


Vice President Kamala Harris responded to advocates' concerns in a "Face the Nation" interview late last month, saying the administration must continue to be "vigilant" on the topic, but she did not provide a specific way to get relief to borrowers.

"Well, I think that we have to continue to do what we're doing and figure out how we can creatively relieve the pressure that students are feeling because of their student-loan debt," Harris said.

How does the student-loan payment pause extension impact you? Share your story with Ayelet Sheffey at