This week, Education Secretary Miguel Cardona offered a stark reality check to hopeful student borrowers: Payments are coming back and borrowers should be ready to make them.
“At some point, people are going to have to start paying what they can afford to pay,” Cardona told MSNBC’s Symone D. Sanders in an exclusive interview set to air this week.
Federal student loan payments and accrued interest have been on hold for more than two years due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. First put in place by former President Donald Trump in March 2020, the reprieve has been extended several times since. And in April, President Joe Biden extended the pause once again, telling borrowers they should prepare to resume payments in September.
Cardona’s comments are similar to those of former publicist Jen Psaki, who said in April that she expects student borrowers will have to pay off their debt “at some point” under the Biden administration. .
Meanwhile, lawmakers and advocates continue to urge the administration to consider broad student loan forgiveness, with progressives demanding $50,000 per borrower, an amount the president himself has said he isn’t considering. not. But according to a recent Politico report, key lawmakers pushing for the cancellation of Sens student loans. Elizabeth Warren, Chuck Schumer and Raphael Warnock want Biden to hold off on issuing an executive order until they have a chance to meet with him one last time and urge him to go big on relief.
“As I’ve said before, those conversations are ongoing. You heard the president a few weeks ago mention that something should happen soon, that he’s having conversations with the Department of Education and the DOJ at this topic,” Cardona said.
Earlier this month, the White House reported that Biden was considering tying student loan forgiveness to income and capping the forgiveness for borrowers earning less than $125,000 to $150,000, or $250,000 to 300. $000 for couples filing joint tax returns. But former press secretary Jen Psaki later said in a briefing that those caps are “not necessarily tied” to the final policy Biden will implement, and Politico also flagged that the income thresholds will be difficult because the Ministry of Education alone does not have the data to do this.
Cardona highlighted the additional steps the Biden administration has already taken to alleviate the national student loan debt, which stands at more than $1.7 trillion, including canceling $18 billion in debt. for over 725,000 borrowers with disabilities and those defrauded by for-profit schools. Cardona has also started looking at student loan forgiveness programs that aren’t working as they should.
“I can assure you that the work we have done since day one under this administration has put borrowers first, canceled loans where possible, but also made the process much more manageable for our borrowers. “, he told Sanders.
Republican lawmakers have increasingly criticized the general student loan relief, arguing that it will benefit the wealthiest incomes while exacerbating inflation. But as 45 million Americans continue to wait for broad student loan relief, Cardona said he knows his job isn’t done yet.
“And like I said before, we’re about a year and a few months into it. We’re not done, but that doesn’t mean we haven’t stopped looking for ways to protect our borrowers and provide some loan debt relief.”