Biden gov’t extends student loan payment freeze amid lawsuits

Washington, Nov 22 (EFE).- The administration of United States President Joe Biden announced an Tuesday another extension of the freeze in student loan payments due to ongoing legal proceedings.

Biden’s federal student loan forgiveness plan, worth up to $20,000 in debt relief per borrower, has been blocked by two legal challenges.

“I’m completely confident my plan is legal,” Biden said in a video statement Tuesday. “But right now it is on hold because of these lawsuits (…) It isn’t fair to ask tens of millions of borrowers eligible for relief to resume their student debt payments while the courts consider the lawsuit.”

The Department of Education said the new extension “will alleviate uncertainty for borrowers as the Biden-Harris Administration asks the Supreme Court to review the lower-court orders that are preventing the Department from providing debt relief for tens of millions of Americans.”

It added that debt payments will resume 60 days after it is allowed to apply its forgiveness program or the dispute in the Supreme Court is resolved. If neither of these things happen before June 30, 2023, payments will resume 60 days after that.

After Biden announced his student loan forgiveness plan, a measure that affects millions of people, conservative groups and Republican-backed states went after it in courts, with two lawsuits succeeding in at least halting the plan so far, while the federal government this month stopped accepting applications.

“Callous efforts to block student debt relief in the courts have caused tremendous financial uncertainty for millions of borrowers who cannot set their family budgets or even plan for the holidays without a clear picture of their student debt obligations, and it’s just plain wrong,” said Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona.

“We’re extending the payment pause because it would be deeply unfair to ask borrowers to pay a debt that they wouldn’t have to pay, were it not for the baseless lawsuits brought by Republican officials and special interests.”

At the end of August, Biden announced that he was going to forgive part of the debt that millions of university students accumulated with the federal administration in order to pay for their studies, in a nod to the young vote before the mid-term elections on Nov. 8.

The president reported the cancellation of up to $20,000 of debt per borrower, affecting single people who earn less than $125,000 a year or married couples and heads of households who make less than $250,000 a year. EFE


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