The Biden administration will extend the payment pause on federal student loans until the end of June or until the Supreme Court rules on the legality of the plan, the White House said Tuesday.
President Joe Biden signed an executive order in August to provide as much as $20,000 in student debt relief for up to 40 million Americans, but before it could be implemented, two courts separately ruled the program was illegal and stopped it. The administration fought those rulings, and the U.S. Department of Justice requested on Friday that the Supreme Court lift the lower courts' injunctions.
- Biden administration will extend the student loan payment pause until the end of June.
- Last week, the administration asked the Supreme Court to review lower court orders that said its plan was illegal.
“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,” U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona said in a press release Tuesday.
This is the eighth time the Education Department has extended the payment pause on federal student loans since it began in March 2020 at the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic. More than 16 million Americans have already been approved for debt relief under Biden’s plan, and another 26 million are under review, but until the Supreme Court decides to rule on the case, no relief can be given out.
Republican officials have previously criticized the plan, saying that rather than an executive order, it should be a bill passed by Congress.
“In this country, we are not ruled by an all-powerful executive with a pen and a phone,” Texas Judge Mark Pittman wrote in the decision ruling against the relief plan earlier this month.
The Department of Education had to close the loan cancellation portal after the first court's decision, and has written to those who were approved, letting them know they would need to wait.
The administration extended the pause until the end of June in hopes that the Supreme Court will review the lower court cases before the end of this term. Loan payments will resume 60 days after the litigation is settled, or at the end of August, 60 days after the pause is lifted.
“I am completely confident that my plan is legal, but right now, it's on hold because of these lawsuits,” Biden said in a video he posted on Twitter.