Today, Senator Richard Burr (R-NC), the Ranking Member of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee, released the following statement after the Biden Administration announced its four-month extension of the COVID-19 student loan repayment freeze, the fourth such extension to date:
“Every American over the age of 12 has had the opportunity to get vaccinated and return to school and work. Students and families faced immense challenges last year, but the American economy continues to recover and there is no rational excuse for continued extensions of non-payment on student loans. We now have more open jobs than ever before and employers are often struggling to fill vacancies. The data shows educated workers have fared best throughout the pandemic.
“Today’s action by the Biden Administration actively works against the interests of students, borrowers, and taxpayers. Based on the cost of prior loan pauses, this extension will cost an estimated $20 billion to subsidize over the next four months, on top of the $76 billion already spent on the loan pauses over the last year and a half.
“Instead, the Administration should use existing needs-based repayment programs that assist borrowers by giving them more repayment flexibility. The Administration should also ask Congress to pass the commonsense, bipartisan proposal Senator King and I introduced, the Repay Act, which would simplify and streamline the current overly-complicated repayment programs into two simple plans.
“As vaccination rates continue to increase, Americans are returning to work and returning to their normal daily lives. Student loan repayments should resume as well.”
On June 2, 2021, Senator Burr and Representative Virginia Foxx (R-NC) sent a letter to Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona urging the Department to not extend the repayment freeze and requesting an update on its plan to transition student loan borrowers from the COVID-19 freeze to active repayment status.
On March 18, 2021, Senators Burr and Angus King (I-ME) reintroduced the Repay Act to reform federal student loan repayment programs by consolidating the existing nine programs into two, easy-to-navigate repayment plans.
On March 27, 2020, the CARES Act was signed into law, which first paused student loan repayments through September 30, 2020. The pause was extended by then-Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos on August 21, 2020, through December 31, 2020, and extended again through January 31, 2021. On January 20, 2021, President Biden announced the extension of the loan pause through September 30, 2021.
Today’s announcement will be the fourth extension in almost a year and a half.