03.16.22

Senator Murray Pushes Biden Admin to Extend Student Loan Payment Pause until 2023, Take Action to Fix Broken Student Loan Programs & Lower Cost of Higher Education

(Washington, D.C.) – Today, U.S. Senator Patty Murray (D-WA), Chair of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee, issued the following statement on the student loan payment pause and the work ahead to not only support current borrowers but lower the skyrocketing cost of higher education for future students.

 

“When I talk to student loan borrowers in Washington state, one thing is painfully clear: the student loan system is broken. It is ruining lives and holding people back. Borrowers are struggling with rising costs, struggling to get their feet back under them after public health and economic crises, and struggling with a broken student loan system—and all this is felt especially hard by borrowers of color.

 

“I have heard horror stories from borrowers about hours-long phone calls with their student loan servicers trying to get questions answered, or reading through pages of fine print to figure out the best repayment program or how to consolidate loans. And I’ve heard stories of folks spending weeks applying for a student loan discharge after paying their loans for decades—all to find out that they can’t get the relief they were promised because of impossibly complicated paperwork or an obscure technicality.”

 

“These aren’t just inconveniences. We’re talking about a policy failure that has financial consequences that keep people in jobs they don’t like, prevent them from buying houses or starting families—or force them to choose between making their loan payments and paying for groceries, rent, or health care.

 

“This loan system is unacceptable and we can fix it. When you get a loan to afford higher education, you deserve a system that works. It should be easy to enroll in a sensible repayment plan, no one should end up with a monthly payment they can’t afford, and debt relief shouldn’t require making it through a gauntlet of paperwork. This is not too much to ask—so until we fix our student loan system, the student loan payment pause must continue to provide borrowers much-needed relief.

 

“That’s why I’m pleased to see signs the Biden Administration is considering extending the student loan payment pause, and why I am calling on them to do so until at least 2023, and work to permanently fix our student loan system, including by:

  • Giving struggling borrowers a fresh start, by placing borrowers who were in default before the pause back into good standing and ensuring they have their negative credit histories cleared without losing the ability to rehabilitate their loans;
  • Making income-driven repayment (IDR) more generous and easier to access, by heeding the calls of Senate Democrats to finalize a new plan that is available to all borrowers, has a seamless enrollment process, prevents debts from ballooning over time, and caps monthly payments at no more than 10% of discretionary income—and sun-setting existing IDR plans;
  • Building on the tremendous relief made possible by the Administration’s Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) plan, by extending the deadline for the temporary PSLF waiver to ensure public servants get the debt forgiveness they are owed and finalizing a new plan aligned with what Senate Democrats have already called for—to make it easier for payments to qualify and close donut holes;
  • Providing immediate relief by forgiving some debt for all borrowers, while prioritizing those struggling the most, including borrowers of color, borrowers with low incomes, borrowers who have been trapped in repayment for over 20 years, and borrowers who left college with no credential.

 

“And we’ve got to be clear-eyed that the cost of college is continuing to sky-rocket—so to truly address the root of this problem and put our students on a path to success, the Biden Administration must continue working with Congress to lower the cost of higher education and make sure it’s actually helping students get quality, high-paying jobs.

 

“My message to Washington state student loan borrowers is a simple one: you deserve real relief and a fair, workable system, and I’m going to keep working to make sure you get it.”  

 

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