Resuming student loan payments would force millions of borrowers to choose between paying their loans or putting a roof over their heads, food on the table, or paying for childcare and health care
WASHINGTON, D.C. — Ahead of the federal student loan payment pause set to expire at the end of next month, U.S. Senator Alex Padilla (D-Calif.) joined U.S. Senators Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), Cory Booker (D-N.J.), Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), and Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), alongside Representatives Lauren Underwood (D-Ill.-14), Tony Cardenas (D-Calif.-29), and Ayanna Pressley (D-Mass.-07), in a bicameral group of 100 colleagues in the Senate and House urging the Biden administration to extend the student loan payment pause beyond August 31, 2022. This effort comes on the heels of several news reports that the Biden administration has not made a final decision about whether to extend the student loan payment pause—a decision that will affect millions of student loan borrowers. In California, student loan debt prevents 3.5 million borrowers from fully contributing to our economy.
“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.,” wrote more than 100 lawmakers to President Joe Biden and Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona. “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.”
The lawmakers emphasized how resuming student loan payments would force millions of borrowers to choose between paying their 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. Food prices remain high, as suppliers contend with ongoing supply chain issues and the war in Ukraine. 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,” the lawmakers added. “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.”
The lawmakers concluded by pointing out how resuming student loan payments at this moment would further complicate administrative actions already underway at the U.S. Department of Education. All federal student loan borrowers are in limbo as they await upcoming actions from the Department of Education or their federal student loan servicer.
Padilla has consistently called on the Biden administration to extend the student loan payment pause and to deliver relief to student borrowers. He co-led a letter urging the Biden administration to extend the payment pause and cancel student debt and introduced the Student Debt Forgiveness for Frontline Health Workers Act, which would honor the sacrifices of frontline workers during the pandemic by forgiving their student and professional training loan debt. In April, he also joined Senator Menendez and other colleagues in calling on the Departments of Education and Justice to follow through on their pledge to improve the handling of student debt bankruptcy claims.