Biden's Education Secretary isn't ruling out an extension of the student-loan payment freeze

  • Education Secretary Miguel Cardona isn’t ruling out extending the student loan payment pause.
  • Some Democrats argue the payment freeze isn’t enough, and full debt cancelation is needed. 
  • Cardona said he will increase communication to borrowers in case of a wider federal debt cancelation.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

In one of his first actions in office, President Joe Biden extended the freeze on student-loan payments through September 30. With that deadline approaching, Education Secretary Miguel Cardona said on Monday that the Department is “looking at” whether to resume payments and 0% interest come October.

“Obviously we’re going to take the lead from what the data is telling us and where we are as a country with regards to the recovery of the pandemic,” Cardona said during an Education Writers Association conference. “It’s not out of the question, but at this point it’s September 30.”

“We have to work with them [borrowers] to make sure that we ramp up the communication and the clarity so that it’s smooth as possible,” Cardona said, referencing the repayment process. “We know that that’s something we’re going to be focusing on as it gets closer.”

Aside from extending the payment pause, Cardona has so far canceled student debt for borrowers defrauded by for-profit schools and borrowers with disabilities, and he expanded the scope of the payment pause to apply to those with privately held loans under the Federal Family Education Loan (FFEL) Program.

Insider reported on April 23 that freezing student loan payments has saved an average of just $2,000 per borrower, strengthening the Democrats’ argument that debt cancelation will make a much more significant impact for borrowers with student debt.

But Democratic lawmakers and advocacy organizations are pushing for Biden to do more and cancel $50,000 in student debt per person, and Cardona said during the conference that if federal debt cancelation goes any further, he’ll increase his department’s communication efforts to make sure all borrowers are aware of their options.

Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts is one of the lawmakers leading the call for student-debt cancelation, and she said on Twitter on April 17 that borrowers need relief now.

“The whole student-loan-debt system is broken, and it’s placing a massive burden on tens of millions of people,” Warren said. “They need immediate relief. And we need big, structural change to make higher education within reach for every family.”

Biden has asked the Justice and Education Departments to review his ability to cancel $50,000 in student debt per person, the results of which haven’t yet been released. 

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