White House Is Said to Pause Student Loans Again, Pushing Payments to September

President Biden will allow millions of federal student loan borrowers to freeze their payments until Aug. 31, according to an administration official briefed on the matter, the latest extension of a pandemic relief measure that began more than two years ago.

The delay — the sixth since the pause began early in the pandemic — will come less than a month before payments were scheduled to restart and affect tens of millions of borrowers, including 35 million who have not been making payments that would otherwise have been due.

Those debts have not been accruing interest, and 7 million borrowers who have defaulted received a break from paycheck garnishments and other collection efforts since the pause began.

The extension was expected to be announced this week, according to the administration official, who was not authorized to speak about the plans before they were formally announced.

The extension will be welcome news for people unable, or unwilling, to resume paying bills that can be hundreds of dollars a month or more. Americans owe $1.6 trillion on federal student loans — more than they owe on car loans, credit cards or any consumer debt other than mortgages.

Progressives in the Democratic Party have long called for widespread cancellation of some federal student loan debt. Senators Chuck Schumer of New York, the Democratic leader, and Representative Ayanna Pressley and Senator Elizabeth Warren, both of Massachusetts, have repeatedly pressed for President Biden to wipe out to $50,000 per borrower through an executive action.

Mr. Biden has resisted that approach and said he would prefer for any debt cancellation to happen legislatively. Congressional supporters say they don’t have the votes. A plan to cancel $10,000 in debt for many borrowers passed the House in 2020 as part of its pandemic relief package, then died in the Senate.

But the Biden administration continues to dangle the possibility of cancellation.

“Joe Biden, right now, is the only president in history where no one’s paid on their student loans for the entirety of his presidency,” Ron Klain, Mr. Biden’s chief of staff, said last month on the Pod Save America podcast. “The question of whether or not there’s some executive action on student debt forgiveness, when the payments resume, is a decision we’re going to take before the payments resume.”

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