President Joe Biden is expected to announce on Wednesday that his administration is once again going to extend the student loan payment pause, which is currently set to expire in May.
Though the action received limited praise from lawmakers, it’s far from what debt advocates and Democrats and progressives in Congress have been demanding. Last week, nearly 100 Democrats sent a letter to Biden urging him to extend the payment pause through at least the end of the year, and to cancel student debt as he promised to do on the campaign trail.
Without student debt cancellation, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-New York) pointed out, borrowers will continue to live under looming deadlines, which can add to financial stress.
“I think some folks read these extensions as savvy politics, but I don’t think those folks understand the panic and disorder it causes people to get so close to these deadlines just to extend the uncertainty,” she wrote in reaction to the extension news. “It doesn’t have the effect people think it does. We should cancel them.”
Ocasio-Cortez went on to say that constituents have asked her whether or not they should cancel medical procedures or sell their cars in order to prepare for payments to restart. The uncertainty is a “strain,” she said.
Activists have been pressuring the Biden administration to take action on student debt. The Debt Collective marched in Washington, D.C. on Monday in order to demand that Biden cancel student loans.
“[P]ausing a crisis does not solve it,” the Debt Collective wrote on Tuesday. “Biden has the complete authority to wipe it out completely with an executive order. Do it now, [Biden].”
— The Debt Collective (@StrikeDebt) April 4, 2022
According to the Student Debt Crisis Center, borrowers collectively hold about $1.9 trillion in debt; for the over 40 million people in the U.S. who have student debt, the loans are a major financial burden that are holding them back from being able to participate in the economy. The vast majority of borrowers say that they’re unprepared for payments to restart, with many saying that the payments represent a huge portion of their salaries.
“Student loans have been paused since 2020 and our economy hasn’t collapsed,” wrote Rep. Jamaal Bowman (D-New York) on Tuesday. “The cost of living goes up while wages stagnate. Don’t just delay payments, [President Biden], cancel student debt.”