WASHINGTON, Fla. — This week, millions of borrowers learned the pandemic pause on their federal student loan repayments has been extended through the end of August.
EXPLAINER: Biden extends student loan freeze through August
“We recognize that this is a tough time,” said U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona in a one-on-one interview with our Washington News Bureau. “We know that Americans are still hurting and this is an opportunity for them to have a little bit more time to get some of the other things that they’re taking care of right now like their mortgage, child care.”
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It’s a step that supporters say will give much-needed relief to millions of borrowers, but questions remain about the long-term plan for borrowers.
Progressives in Congress have been critical of the Biden administration’s inaction on widespread student loan forgiveness.
We asked Cardona about President Biden’s campaign promise to forgive up to $10,000 in federal student loans for individual borrowers.
“We’re continuing those conversations about broader loan forgiveness,” said Cardona. “But I will tell you that if you look at day one until now, more has been done in one year under President Biden in terms of loan forgiveness than any other administration combined — in one year. $17 billion in loan forgiveness. We’ve canceled debt for borrowers with total and permanent disabilities.”
WATCH: Student loan payments loom over Florida as program pause set to end
We asked Cardona what would need to happen for broad loan forgiveness to be put in place.
There have been questions over whether President Biden would need to sign an executive order or whether it would need to be an act of Congress.
“What we’re doing now with the White House is having conversations about the authorities and what that looks like moving forward,” said Cardona.
While progressives in Congress push for stronger loan relief action, Republicans have criticized the six extensions for the repayment pause.
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“This is done because of the needs of our Americans who are telling us right now that they’re not going to be able to do it,” said Cardona.
We asked Cardona if the repayment pause could be extended again.
“It’s important to remember this is done based on the pandemic,” said Cardona. “We do believe an extension is warranted now. We’re going to continue to monitor it. Right now, we have August 31 and as you’ve seen in the past, we’ve been comfortable moving that date if needed.”
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