As expected, President-elect Joe Biden will, upon taking office Jan. 20, instruct the Education Department to continue the pause excusing student loan borrowers from making payments, a top economic adviser in the incoming administration said.
David Kamin, who will be deputy director of the National Economic Council in the Biden administration, did not reveal additional details including how much longer borrowers will not have to make their monthly repayments in a call with reporters Friday.
President Trump in August excused borrowers from making payments through the end of the year, as unemployment surged from business closures during the pandemic. With borrowers facing the prospect of having to make payments again, then-Education Secretary Betsy DeVos on Dec. 6 extended the moratorium until Feb. 1.
Kamin, a New York University law professor, said in a briefing on Biden’s economic plans that the president-elect supports asking Congress to erase $10,000 from the debt of all borrowers. He said, without giving more details, that Biden also plans to expand income-based repayment plans and reform the currently little-used debt forgiveness program for borrowers working in public service.
However, others, like new Senate majority leader Chuck Schumer, a Democrat from New York, and Elizabeth Warren, a Democratic senator from Massachusetts, have called on Biden to go further by canceling $50,000 from all student loan borrowers’ debt and bypassing Congress by acting through an executive order.
Seven advocacy groups also pressed Biden to go further on Friday. “Cancellation of $10,000 per borrower would only be a modest down payment on a $1.7 trillion crisis that started long before COVID-19 and that disproportionately burdens borrowers of color. Far more debt cancellation is required to provide the aid that 44 million families and the overall economy need,” said the groups, including the American Federation of Teachers, Americans for Financial Reform, the Center for Responsible Lending, the National Consumer Law Center (on behalf of its low-income clients), Student Debt Crisis and Young Invincibles.
The groups also continued to call on Biden to act on his own. “We know President-Elect Biden realizes how important student debt relief is, and how many other battles Congress will have in this critical moment. The surest way to get immediate cancellation is through executive action,” they said.