Dejected Student Loan Borrowers Have Reason for Hope

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That’s how many federal student loan borrowers are waiting to hear whether the president will extend the pandemic-era reprieve on loan obligations for a sixth time, perhaps in conjunction with some form of loan forgiveness. 

If recent comments by Ron Klain, the White House chief of staff, are any indication, another extension beyond May 1 is a real possibility, and would be tied to a decision on whether to forgive some of each borrower’s balance, as President Joe Biden called for during his 2020 presidential campaign. With Congressional bills authorizing forgiveness getting little traction, some have called on Biden to use his executive authority to forgive loans.

"The President is going to look at what we should do on student debt before the pause expires, or he'll extend the pause,” Klain said on the Pod Save America podcast Thursday.

“The question of whether or not there’s some executive action” to take on student debt forgiveness “when the payments resume is a decision we’re going to take before the payments resume.”

Advocates on Monday made a fresh push to extend the pause on payment obligations.

“It is clear that payments should not resume until your administration has fully delivered on the promises you made to student loan borrowers to fix the broken student loan system and cancel a substantial amount of federal student debt,” a group of 210 borrower and consumer organizations wrote the White House in an open letter. (On the campaign trail, Biden advocated forgiving up to $10,000 per borrower, while progressive lawmakers asked that as much as $50,000 per borrower be canceled.)

Borrowers waiting for Biden to act were discouraged after he failed to mention the issue in his State of the Union address last week.

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