Millions of student-loan borrowers risk a 'financial catastrophe' if Biden doesn't 'immediately' extend the debt payment pause, 225 advocacy groups say
- Over 200 advocacy groups urged Biden to extend the student-loan payment pause on Monday.
- After two federal courts blocked the relief, they said borrowers should not have to face payments.
Over 200 advocacy groups have a message for President Joe Biden: It's time to extend the student-loan payment pause once again.
On Monday, 225 organizations led by the Student Borrower Protection Center sent a letter to Biden calling on him to extend the pause on student-loan payments beyond its current expiration date of December 31. Two conservative lawsuits have blocked indefinitely the president's plan to forgive up to $20,000 in student loans for federal borrowers.
The advocacy groups argued that until borrowers receive the relief they were promised, they cannot be forced back into repayment.
"We cannot allow these blatantly political lawsuits to throw millions of borrowers into financial catastrophe," the groups, including the NAACP and the American Federation of Teachers, wrote. "Throwing millions of borrowers back into repayment as the state of debt relief remains uncertain is a recipe for disaster and will result in widespread confusion and set borrowers up for failure."
They added that they urge Biden to "immediately extend the payment pause until your Administration is able to fully implement debt relief for all eligible borrowers and to continue to use every legal authority at your disposal to make this relief real."
After the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled last week that the temporary pause it placed on the relief in October will remain in effect, Biden's Justice Department took matters to the Supreme Court, asking the Court to revive student-loan forgiveness and allow the relief to move forward. The administration also appealed to a lower court the federal judge in Texas' decision to block the relief two weeks ago.
Since the 8th Circuit first paused the relief, the Education Department has stopped accepting new applications from borrowers. Prior to that point, 26 million borrowers had submitted their forms to get loan forgiveness. The department began notifying borrowers on Saturday that their applications had been approved, with Education Secretary Miguel Cardona writing in the email that "we will discharge your approved debt if and when we prevail in court."
Since the lawsuits surfaced, advocates and some Democratic lawmakers have been stressing the need to extend the payment pause and ensure borrowers do not have to foot another monthly bill without a reduction to their loan balances. Under Secretary of Education James Kvaal indicated in a recent legal filing that he was "examining all available options" to help borrowers amid the legal challenges, but he noted that "those options are not without their own costs."
"For example, the Department estimates that if it temporarily extends the existing COVID-19 pandemic payment and interest accrual pause for federal student loan holders, it will cost taxpayers several billion dollars a month in unrecovered loan revenue," Kvaal wrote.
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