The federal student loan pause is being extended through August
President Joe Biden announced Wednesday that the pause on federal student loan payments will be extended once again, this time through the end of August 2022. It was set to expire May 1.
The moratorium on federal loan payments and interest accrual will now last at least two and a half years since it was first enacted in March 2020 under President Donald Trump to help those who might be struggling to make payments during the coronavirus pandemic. The pause does not apply to private student loans.
“We are still recovering from the pandemic and the unprecedented economic disruption it caused,” Biden said in a statement announcing the extension, adding that recent research shows resuming payments would lead to “significant economic hardship.”
With inflation soaring, the unprecedented relief comes at a welcome time for the estimated 37 million borrowers who have had payments waived since the start of the pandemic. Collectively, they have saved around $195 billion, according to the New York Federal Reserve, and their credit scores have jumped.
Around 18% of borrowers have made federal student loan payments throughout the pause, the Fed report found. Experts encourage those who can afford to make payments on their federal loans to do so, as their whole payments will go toward the principal balance of the loan, rather than the interest, which is currently set at 0%. That will help them pay the loans down faster.
That said, one group of borrowers are better off not making payments right now: Those working toward student loan forgiveness, like through the Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) program. The months of the pause still count toward the total number of payments those borrowers need to make (120 is the payment count for PSLF, for example).
Many experts predicted the pause would not expire May 1. Last week, a group of 100 Democratic lawmakers sent Biden a letter urging him to extend the pause. Some Democrats also want the president to go farther, forgiving more debt or cancelling loans outright.
During his presidential campaign, Biden supported cancelling $10,000 worth of student loan debt for all federal borrowers. Since taking office, he’s made little movement on the promise, though his administration has forgiven debt for some disabled adults and some defrauded borrowers. The Education Department has also temporarily expanded eligibility for PSLF, and 100,000 borrowers have had their loans forgiven as a result of those changes since October 2021.
This post has been updated with details on the president’s announcement.