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