A seven-time extension of President Biden’s temporary moratorium on student loan repayment is uncertain as it is set to expire in less than two weeks. Beginning in March of 2020, there will be a temporary stop to all operations that will last until August 31 of that year. The pause has never been closer to an end date without being extended again, but there is evidence that it will be extended again. There are a lot of borrowers who aren’t ready to start making payments again so quickly.
I don’t think I would have been able to put food on the table if I had to make payments on my student loans. Victoria Loe, a student at several universities in Virginia, tells TIME, “I’ve been operating, not just paycheck to paycheck, but I’m borrowing money and using credit to pay for basic survival needs.” For some reason, the idea that I’ll have to start paying for that hasn’t sunk in yet. For the past few years, I’ve been making barely above the federal minimum wage.
Learn More About President Biden’s Program to Discharge Student Loans by Reading This Exposition
U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona promised in June that borrowers would have “ample notice” before any changes were made to their monthly payments. Back in July, Vice President Biden promised to announce his decision on whether or not to extend the pause by the end of August.
“I was really hoping that because I got a pay increase I could start paying off all those debts, actually saving money, and working toward improving my financial standing,” Loe says. “My rent just went up, but I got a new job.” But if I have unexpected bills of a couple hundred dollars every month, all my good intentions will go out the window.
The Trump administration initiated the COVID-19 Emergency Relief and Federal Student Aid payment suspension to help students cope with financial stress during the early stages of the pandemic. During the break, the federal government stopped collecting on overdue student loans, stopped charging interest, and stopped taking payments from borrowers who had their loans serviced by the Department of Education.
A health and nutrition studies alumna of UMass Amherst’s University Without Walls (UWW) program tells TIME: “The student loan repayment pause program has allowed me to explore more career areas after graduating with a degree in a field that it is difficult to secure a well paying job in.”
In order to assist students who do not fit the typical college student profile, UWW offers a number of unique programs and services. Archer was able to save money through the program because he was able to continue working while attending classes online. Archer is working in an AmeriCorps program to help her pay off her student loans while she pursues a career in community health. Archer discloses that her loan debt is around $15,000 and that her AmeriCorps Education Award is $4,500.
Student debt and the cost of higher education inspired Archer to look for an Americorps program that would complement her education. Although the stipends are low, I am glad to have the opportunity to work toward bettering my community through these programs.
The CARES Act, which authorized the two-month grace period for repaying student loans, stipulates that loan servicers must provide borrowers with at least six notices beginning at least two months before payments resume. The Education Department reportedly told loan service providers in early August to refrain from sending out such notices, as reported by The Wall Street Journal, suggesting that repayments are unlikely to commence anytime soon.
There is growing public and political pressure on the President to continue the temporary loan forgiveness program and to implement additional measures to help students with their debt. It has been suggested that Joe Biden’s stance on student loans, or lack thereof, could be a deciding factor in the upcoming vote.
Forgiveness of $32 billion in student debt has been a priority for Vice President Biden since he took office. Borrowers with disabilities, those who participated in the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program, and students who attended schools that provided false or misleading information about student loans have benefited most from this relief.
In the face of rising inflation and a possible recession, Republicans and Democrats are still at odds over whether or not to temporarily suspend payments on student loans or forgive existing debt. During his presidential campaign, Biden advocated for the cancellation of $10,000 in federal student loans for each borrower, but he strongly opposed the cancellation of $50,000 in federal student loans for each borrower, as has been advocated by some Democrats.
Mark Kantrowitz, an authority on higher education, told TIME that if Biden decided to resume student loan payments a few months before an election, he would be committing “political suicide.” Aside from “political considerations,” Kantrowitz argues that “there is no valid justification” for a continuation of the payment pause and interest waiver.
Keep reading to learn more about how the burden of student loan debt is stifling the lives of today’s youth in the United States.
A group of borrowers were notified by email from Nelnet, a student loan service provider, on August 18 that their payments would begin being automatically deducted from their accounts on September 1. Hours later, Nelnet sent a follow-up email telling borrowers to disregard the message and that payments remain paused due to the pandemic, though it is unclear how many people received the initial message or why it was sent.
Nelnet sent a follow-up email explaining that payments would be taken out of their customers’ accounts on September 1, 2022. Please ignore that message. It was inappropriate to send. If it has caused you any anxiety or uncertainty, please accept our apologies.
There is a lot of miscommunication and lack of information from administrations and loan service groups, as evidenced by the emails sent by Nelnet, which are causing a lot of confusion among loan borrowers.
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