Student loan borrowers across the United States shared a collective sigh of grief on Dec. 13.
The Biden Administration announced that student loan repayments would officially continue on Feb. 1, 2022. For almost two years, millions of Americans were given some reprieve for their student loan payments due to the crippling economic effects of the coronavirus pandemic. Back in March 2020, all payments and interest rates were paused, giving most Americans more money to tuck away as millions were forced into unemployment at the height of the pandemic. Now, financial uncertainty looms again for millions of student loan borrowers as new fears begin to emerge about the Omicron variant that’s slowly sweeping across the U.S.
White House press secretary Jen Psaki confirmed the news on Dec. 13 during a press conference noting that getting Americans back on track with paying off their student loans has been a “high priority for the administration.”
“We’re still assessing the impact of the [COVID-19] Omicron variant,” Psaki said during the briefing. “But a smooth transition back into repayment is a high priority for the administration. The Department of Education is already communicating with borrowers to help them to prepare for return to repayment on February 1st and has secured contract extensions with loan servicers.”
Elsewhere in Psaki’s update, the White House official claimed that “41 million borrowers have benefited” from the extended pause and that The Biden Administration would be working directly with Americans to hopefully make the process easier through repayment plans.
According to Forbes, Biden has helped to cancel “$12.5 billion in student loan debt for about 640,000 borrowers since he entered office.” However, much of that student loan forgiveness has gone to specific groups of people including the disabled, or for students whose campuses’ closed due to unforeseeable circumstances, like the pandemic.
Many student loan borrowers felt duped following the news, given that at one point during Biden’s campaign, the steadfast politician was proposing a plan to automatically clear up to $50,000 of student loan debt for all Americans who provided public service. Now, it appears as though he’s doubled back on those prospects claiming that Congress should be the one to grant widespread forgiveness through legislation.
The news comes as a sad reality for Black women in particular, who are drastically affected by the student loan crisis. Black women owe on average 22 percent more student loan debt than their white counterparts. Additionally, Black women graduate from undergrad owing nearly $41,466 compared to white women who owe $33, 851, the American Association of University Women (AAUW) reported.
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