The Education Department extended federal student loan relief until January 31, giving Americans another four months with no payments or interest.
The payment pause was first implemented by the Trump administration in March 2020 to assist those financially impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The department said the additional time will give borrowers time to plan for resuming payments, reducing delinquencies and defaults after the restart.
“The payment pause has been a lifeline that allowed millions of Americans to focus on their families, health, and finances instead of student loans during the national emergency,” Education Secretary Miguel Cardona said.
“As our nation’s economy continues to recover from a deep hole, this final extension will give students and borrowers the time they need to plan for restart and ensure a smooth pathway back to repayment. It is the department’s priority to support students and borrowers during this transition and ensure they have the resources they need to access affordable, high quality higher education.”
Some lawmakers have urged the Biden administration to cancel or partially cancel student debt. In February, White House press secretary Jen Psaki announced that President Joe Biden had asked the Justice Department to investigate whether he had the legal authority to do so.
Biden said in a statement Friday that the moratorium on repayment means Americans won’t have to choose between paying off debt and buying necessities during the pandemic.
“As evidenced by today’s job numbers, we have the tools to beat COVID-19 and keep our economy recovering at a record pace. But we know there is still work to be done, and the road ahead will be difficult for many people, particularly the one in every six adults and one in every three young people who have federal student loans “He stated.
According to the Education Department, student loan debt in the United States will exceed $1.7 trillion by the end of 2020.