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With the legal blows to President Joe Biden’s student loan forgiveness plan, it’s possible the administration will again extend the payment pause on monthly bills, experts say.
“I’m sure they need to consider it as an option,” said Scott Buchanan, executive director of the Student Loan Servicing Alliance, a trade group for federal student loan servicers.
If the president’s policy remains stuck in court by the end of the year, higher education expert Mark Kantrowitz said “the Biden administration is likely to extend the payment pause even further.”
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The Washington Post reported this week that White House officials are beginning to discuss the possibility of another extension if lawsuits continue to thwart his loan cancellation plan. It would be the eighth time that borrowers would have more time.
Federal student loan repayments have been on hold since March 2020, when the coronavirus pandemic first hit the United States and crippled the economy. Taking over the bills of more than 40 million Americans will be a daunting task, and the Biden administration had hoped to ease the transition by writing off much of the student debt first.
However, since the president announced in August his plan to cancel up to $20,000 for tens of millions of borrowers, conservative groups and Republican states have moved quickly to try to block it. The US Department of Education closed its student loan forgiveness portal last week after a federal judge in Texas called Biden’s plan “unconstitutional” and struck it down.
Biden’s plan is also on hold after six GOP-led states — Nebraska, Missouri, Arkansas, Iowa, Kansas and South Carolina — asked the courts to put the policy on hold while his legal challenge unfolds.
“Courts have issued orders blocking our student debt relief program,” according to a note on the pardon application page on Studentaid.gov. “As a result, at this time, we are not accepting applications. We are seeking to rescind these orders.”
Before the portal closed, some 26 million Americans had requested help. Under the president’s plan, more than 10 million borrowers are expected to have their student loan balances wiped out entirely.
“The Biden administration has promised forgiveness to tens of millions of borrowers who will be upset about having to make payments on loans they expected to be forgiven,” Kantrowitz said.
The White House declined to comment.