Letter to Joseph Biden, President of the United States, and Miguel Cardona, Secretary of Education - Urging Biden Administration to Extend Student Loan Payment Pause


By: Dianne Feinstein, Ann Kirkpatrick, Eric Swalwell, Tony Cárdenas, Linda Sánchez, Katie Porter, John Larson, Darren Soto, Hank Johnson, Jr., Robin Kelly, Jan Schakowsky, Jim McGovern, Anthony Brown, Haley Stevens, Alma Adams, Bonnie Watson Coleman, Hakeem Jeffries, Adriano Espaillat, Shontel Brown, Madeleine Dean, Sheila Jackson Lee, Lloyd Doggett II, Alex Padilla, Mazie Hirono, Ed Markey, Cory Booker, Jeff Merkley, Bernie Sanders, Raul Grijalva, Ro Khanna, Grace Napolitano, Lucille Roybal-Allard, Lou Correa, Joe Courtney, Val Demings, Nikema Williams, Marie Newman, Lauren Underwood, Katherine Clark, Jamie Raskin, Rashida Tlaib, Albio Sires, Thomas Suozzi, Yvette Clarke, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Peter DeFazio, Conor Lamb, Joaquin Castro, Peter Welch, Richard Blumenthal, Dick Durbin, Chris Van Hollen, Jr., Chuck Schumer, Bob Casey, Jr., Terri Sewell, Ruben Gallego, Barbara Lee, Salud Carbajal, Judy Chu, Raul Ruiz, Karen Bass, Mark Takano, Nanette Barragán, Juan Vargas, Diana DeGette, Jahana Hayes, Eleanor Norton, Sheila Cherfilus-McCormick, Frederica Wilson, Lucy McBath, Kai Kahele, Chuy Garcia, Danny Davis, André Carson, Troy Carter, Ayanna Pressley, Bill Keating, Chellie Pingree, Andy Levin, Ilhan Omar, Kilili Sablan, Bill Pascrell, Jr., Don Payne, Jr., Grace Meng, Nydia Velázquez, Jerry Nadler, Carolyn Maloney, Ritchie Torres, Jamaal Bowman, Brendan Boyle, Dwight Evans, Vicente Gonzalez, Veronica Escobar, Sylvia Garcia, Colin Allred, Pramila Jayapal, Mark Pocan, Raphael Warnock, Brian Schatz, Tammy Duckworth, Elizabeth Warren, Tina Smith, Bob Menendez, Sherrod Brown, Ron Wyden, Jack Reed, Sheldon Whitehouse
Date: July 28, 2022
Location: Washington, DC

Dear President Biden and Secretary Cardona,

In roughly 35 days, on September 1, 2022, tens of millions of federal student loan borrowers are scheduled to resume payments. Despite repeated reports and surveys concerning whether borrowers will be able to pay,1 we understand the Administration is considering restarting student loan payments at the end of August.2 We write today to urge you to extend the pause on student loan payments, given the numerous economic issues facing borrowers across the nation, as well as administrative actions in process by the Department of Education.

For over two years, the Department has provided critical flexibility to millions of federal student loan borrowers by pausing payments, as many have struggled during the COVID-19 pandemic. This much needed pause has helped many borrowers to keep a roof over their heads, secure childcare, and purchase food, health care, and medicine during the course of a pandemic responsible for the deaths of more than 1 million people in the U.S.3 For the first time, many borrowers have had the opportunity to pay down debt, open a savings account, purchase a home, and save for retirement--none of which would have been possible without the payment pause.4

Resuming student loan payments would force millions of borrowers to choose between paying their federal student loans or putting a roof over their heads, food on the table, or paying for childcare and health care--while costs continue to rise and while yet another COVID-19 variant increases hospitalizations nationwide. Despite significant decreases over the last month, gas prices are still high, and many borrowers still have to pay exorbitant amounts each week in order to commute to their jobs.5 Food prices remain high, as suppliers contend with ongoing supply chain issues and the war in Ukraine.6 We still have a significant childcare crisis throughout the country, which has caused already-high costs to spike to 40% of their pre-pandemic levels.7 Low-income borrowers, Black and Brown borrowers, and women borrowers still face severe financial hardships as COVID-19 continues to infect individuals throughout the country and exacerbate existing inequities.8

Moreover, resuming student loan payments at this moment would further complicate administrative actions already underway or contemplated by the Department--which could contribute to unnecessary confusion for borrowers in the upcoming months. Currently, many borrowers are in limbo as they await upcoming actions from the Department or their federal student loan servicer--either through the Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) waiver or through the one-time account adjustments announced by Ed on April 19, 2022 that would count past periods of forbearance or deferment.9

Accordingly, we ask that the Administration continue to keep federal student loan payments paused.