Biden denies progressive pleas to extend student loan freeze

Right now, monthly federal student loan payments are suspended and interest rates are set to zero.

Progressives have urged Biden to keep the freeze in place.

President Biden will allow the current federal student loan freeze to expire at the end of Jan. 2022, much to the dismay of progressives who had pushed his administration to keep the pause in place.

At the onset of the pandemic, the federal government suspended mandatory monthly payments on federal student loans on federal student loans and set interest rates to zero. The CARES Act codified the pause into legislation, and the administration extended the pause again in August and December 2020.

Immediately upon taking office, the Biden administration extended the student loan pause again. On Aug. 6, the Department of Education announced that the pause would be extended a final time though the end of Jan. 2022.

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Progressives urged Biden to continue the freeze past the Jan. 31 expiration date. 

Sen. Elizabeth Warren and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer sent a letter earlier this month telling the President, “We strongly urge you to extend the pause on student loan payments, interest, and collections until the economy reaches pre-pandemic employment levels.” 

Sen. Raphael Warnock led a group of Democratic lawmakers in sending another letter, which implores Biden to keep the pause in effect and to “automatically [rehabilitate] loans,” meaning to get those loans out of default status and back into good standing, without requiring borrowers who defaulted to submit an application.

Advocacy groups have also pressured the President to keep the pause in effect. Dozens of groups, including the American Civil Liberties Union, Public Citizen, and the People’s Parity Project, and the American Federation of Teachers, signed on to a letter asking to keep the pause in place as only one of several student loan relief measures.

[RELATED: Biden extends federal student loan freeze: No bills, no interest until 2022]

Instead, the Biden administration plans to let the student loan freeze expire. In a press briefing on Dec. 9, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said, “A smooth transition back into repayment is a high priority for the administration….But [the freeze] expires February 1, so, right now, we’re just making a range of preparations.”

That statement means that millions of federal student loan borrowers will be required to pay their monthly bills again or face financial penalty, and interest will begin accruing on federal student loans for the first time in nearly two years.

Follow the author of this article on Twitter: @AngelaLMorabito