- The pause on student loan payments is set to lift at the end of September.
- Education Secretary Miguel Cardona said conversations are ongoing on whether to extend the pause.
- He said last month an extension was not “out of the question,” but no further details were provided.
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As one of his first actions in office, President Joe Biden extended the pause on student-loan payments through September to give borrowers financial relief during the pandemic. Education Secretary Miguel Cardona on Wednesday hinted at the possibility of extending the pause even further.
“We are continuing conversations about if that’s the best time,” Cardona told the Senate Appropriations Committee. “No announcements today, but we continue to have those conversations.”
Cardona testified before the Senate committee on Wednesday morning regarding the education components in Biden’s budget proposal, during which he acknowledged the relief that borrowers have received under the student loan payment pause during the pandemic. New Hampshire Sen. Jeanne Shaheen said that payments restarting in October is “a huge concern for borrowers” and stressed the need to provide certainty for them regarding whether the pause will be extended.
The conversations Cardona mentioned have been ongoing since at least May. At an Education Writers Association conference last month, he said extending the payment pause is “not out of the question.”
“Obviously, we’re going to always take the lead from what the data is telling us and where we are as a country with regards to the recovery of the pandemic,” Cardona said. “It’s not out of the question, but at this point it’s September 30.”
He added that with the repayment process, the department would have to work with borrowers “to make sure that we ramp up the communication and the clarity so that it’s smooth as possible.”
“We know that that’s something we’re going to be focusing on as it gets closer,” he said.
Insider recently reported that the Education Department is planning to improve experiences for student-loan borrowers, but it’s currently unclear what such improvements would entail. An Education Department spokesperson told Insider there is not yet a timeline for when improvements will be implemented.
“We recognize for many families that the recovery from this pandemic will come around the same time,” Cardona said during the hearing. “Students are going to be returning to schools, mortgages will have to start being paid, loans will have to start getting paid, so we want to make sure we are sensitive to the needs of the borrowers and aware of the other challenges that they have. We’re going to continue to do as much as we can with our authorities.”