(The Hill) — The White House said on Tuesday that President Joe Biden is mulling whether to extend the pause on federal student loan payments and whether to forgive student loans on a broader scale ahead of a pandemic-related moratorium on payments that are set to resume on Aug. 31.
“He’ll make a decision,” White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said. “I’ll let him speak.”
She noted that Biden told reporters last week that “the end of August” is his timeline for making a decision. Biden in April extended the pandemic moratorium on federal student loan payments and interest accrual through August.
“The president understands firsthand how burdensome this can be for many Americans … across the country,” Jean-Pierre said. “That’s why he took the action that he did when it came to pausing repayment.”
She said she didn’t have anything more to share on loan cancellation.
Other White House officials have been mum when asked for updates on whether Biden will forgive any amount of student loans by executive action.
Top economic adviser Brian Deese said he didn’t have anything new to share on student loans, adding on Tuesday that “the president spoke to the timeline on this issue.”
A Department of Education spokesperson told The Hill on Tuesday that the administration is still assessing whether to extend the payment pause but that borrowers will be communicated with “directly” about the end of the freeze.
“The Department of Education will continue to assess the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic and the economy on student loan borrowers. We will communicate directly with borrowers about the end of the payment pause when a decision is made,” the spokesperson said.
The statement follows Wall Street Journal reporting on Monday that student loan servicing contractors have been told to not send billing statements.
Before Biden announced the last extension in April, the Department of Education had asked companies to not send out notices about resuming payments.
The pause on student loan payments was first enacted in March 2020 under President Trump and has been extended multiple times since.
The White House has previously indicated that it is nearing a decision on broad student loan debt forgiveness, zeroing in on canceling $10,000 per borrower, but has not yet reached a final decision.
The administration in June announced a plan to discharge all outstanding federal student loans borrowed by former Corinthian Colleges students, providing $5.8 billion in loan cancellations to 560,000 borrowers. The group loan discharge applied to all former students who attended any campus owned or operated by Corinthian Colleges Inc. since the company was founded in 1995 through its closure in 2015.
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