Biden extends pause on federal student loan payments amid pandemic resurgence

WASHINGTON, Dec. 22 (Xinhua) -- U.S. President Joe Biden announced Wednesday he will postpone the start of federal student loan payments, which has been put on hold during the pandemic, until May 1.

People walk on the California State University Long Beach (CSULB) campus before the return of students for Fall classes on August 11, 2021 in Long Beach, California. (Photo: AFP)

Set to restart on Feb. 1, the payments were halted by former President Donald Trump at the beginning of the pandemic. And the freeze was extended by Biden, who cited the continuation of the pandemic as the reason for the latest extension.

"Given these considerations, today my Administration is extending the pause on federal student loan repayments for an additional 90 days - through May 1, 2022 - as we manage the ongoing pandemic and further strengthen our economic recovery," the president said in a statement.

"Meanwhile, the Department of Education will continue working with borrowers to ensure they have the support they need to transition smoothly back into repayment and advance economic stability for their own households and for our nation," he added.

The Biden administration has been under pressure from congressional Democrats to keep the pandemic relief measure in place for students, continuing to provide the cushion for those suffering financially.

"Extending the pause will help millions of Americans make ends meet, especially as we overcome the Omicron variant," read a joint statement by senators Chuck Schumer and Elizabeth Warren as well as Representative Ayanna Pressley, all of them Democrats.

Education Secretary Miguel Cardona said in a statement Wednesday that his department, while preparing for the restart of the payments in May, "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."