President Joe Biden’s Department of Education is “preparing to restart” federal student loan debt payments after a three-year pause during the government-sanctioned coronavirus pandemic, Fox Business reported.
Education Secretary Miguel Cardona told lawmakers late last week during a Senate Appropriations Committee hearing that the department is “preparing to restart repaying because the emergency period is over, and we’re preparing our borrowers to restart.”
Cardona’s statement came in response to a question from Sen. Katie Britt (R-AL) asking him why the government should forgive student loan borrowers when Biden is “demanding that Congress pay its debt obligations in arguments with Republicans over the debt limit,” according to the report. Britt cited remarks from White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre last Monday and asked if Cardona agreed.
“If you buy a car, you are expected to pay the monthly payments. If you buy a home, you are expected to pay the mortgage every month. That is the expectation,” Jean-Pierre said.
Cardona said he agreed with the White House’s position and said the “same logic must apply to student loans”:
"If you buy a car, you are expected to pay the monthly payment … It's that simple."
— Karine Jean-Pierre, top spokesperson for the U.S. governmentpic.twitter.com/StlkjMLm3L
— RNC Research (@RNCResearch) May 8, 2023
According to the report:
He added that the HEROES Act, which the Biden administration has controversially argued empowers the secretary of education to reduce or eliminate federal student loan debt obligations, “provides me the opportunity to create a waiver for those who are impacted significantly by the pandemic — very similar to small businesses the year before, where Congress provided a little bit of support.”
Cardona did not give Congress a specific timeline for the Biden administration’s plan.
The Biden administration announced in November of last year that the pause of student loan payments would be extended until “no later than June 30, 2023,” while the legality of Biden’s attempted debt transfer is determined by federal courts. Student loan servicers are allegedly required to alert borrowers of payment resumption after August 31, according to the report.
Payments have been on pause since March 2020, when former President Donald Trump issued the pause during the coronavirus pandemic. The Biden administration extended the pause several times since it was first issued.
In August 2022, Biden announced his plan to cancel up to $20,000 in student debt for Pell Grant recipients and up to $10,000 for individual borrowers who make under $125,000 per year or couples filing joint earnings of $250,000 or less. The Federal Reserve Bank of New York estimates that the plan would slash $441 billion in student debt from more than 40 million borrowers.
The payments will resume 60 days after Biden’s Department of Education is allowed to implement the program or when the litigation is resolved, whichever comes first. If the litigation is not resolved by the June 30 deadline, borrowers must begin making payments 60 days after that date. The Supreme Court is expected to make a decision about the student debt relief plan within the next month or so, the Hill reported on Sunday:
I'm confident that our student debt relief plan is legal. But it’s on hold because Republican officials want to block it.
— President Biden (@POTUS) November 22, 2022
“I’m confident that our student debt relief plan is legal. But it’s on hold because Republican officials want to block it,” Biden previously tweeted. “That’s why @SecCardona is extending the payment pause to no later than June 30, 2023, giving the Supreme Court time to hear the case in its current term.”
Some Republicans, such as Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI), have countered that the loan forgiveness scheme is “just transferred onto the back of other Americans” and is “grotesquely unfair for people who never went to college or paid off their student loans.”