Warren, Schumer, Pressley, Padilla, Warnock, Omar, Jayapal, Clyburn, Colleagues Urge Biden Administration to Extend the Payment Pause and Cancel Student Debt
Nearly 100 Lawmakers Call on President Biden to Provide Meaningful Student Debt Cancellation
Washington, D.C. – United States Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), Representative Ayanna Pressley (D-Mass.), along with Senators Alex Padilla (D-Calif.), Raphael Warnock (D-Ga.), and Representatives Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.), Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.), and House Majority Whip James E. Clyburn (D-S.C.) led a letter to President Joseph R. Biden urging the administration to act now to extend the pause on federally-held student loan payments until at least the end of the year and to provide meaningful student debt cancellation.
“Given the fast-approaching deadline for borrowers to resume payments, your administration must act as quickly as possible to extend the pause and make clear to the American public your intention to cancel a meaningful amount of student debt. We look forward to supporting your administration in getting it done,” wrote the lawmakers.
The payment pause has been a significant investment throughout the pandemic, providing essential relief to millions of families during the economic and public health crisis, and saving borrowers an average of $393 per month. Borrowers have greatly benefited from the ongoing payment pause, taking the opportunity to pay down other debt, relieve financial pressures from lost jobs or decreased earnings, and support their families' needs. Restarting repayment will financially destabilize many borrowers, and will cause hardship for many who cannot afford repayment. Most borrowers are not financially prepared to shoulder another bill as they face skyrocketing costs for necessities like food and gas.
Black students in particular borrow more to attend college, borrow more often while they are in school, and have a harder time paying their debt off than their white peers. They are more than three times as likely to go into default within four years on their federal loans as white borrowers – and face wage garnishment, tax refund withholding, and federal benefit offset. Latino borrowers are more likely to struggle in repaying their loans and have some of the lowest post-education earnings among all racial or ethnic groups. For example, even when controlling for educational attainment, Latinos with bachelor’s degrees earn 21% less than their white peers do. When looking at disparities in default, twenty percent of Latino borrowers defaulted on their student loans compared to 13% of white borrowers six years after starting college. On top of that, communities of color have also had higher rates of illness and death from COVID-19 throughout the pandemic.
“Canceling student debt is one of the most powerful ways to address racial and economic equity issues. The student loan system mirrors many of the inequalities that plague American society and widens the racial wealth gap,” wrote the lawmakers. “Student debt cancellation must be one of the key actions in your comprehensive approach to advance equity as our nation works to rebuild a stronger and more equitable economy.”
Joining the letter in the Senate are Senators Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), Bernard Sanders (I-Vt.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), Jeffrey Merkley (D-Ore.), Mazie K. Hirono (D-Hawaii), Cory Booker (D-N.J.), Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), Tina Smith (D-Minn.), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.), Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.), Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii), and Ben Ray Luján (D-N.M.). Joining the letter in the House are Representatives Madeline Dean (D-Pa.), Steven Horsford (D-Nev.), Jamaal Bowman (D-N.Y.), Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.), Barbara Lee (D-Calif.), Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.), Mondaire Jones (D-N.Y.), Grace Meng (D-N.Y.), Katherine Clark (D-Mass.), Nikema Williams (D-Ga.), Bonnie Watson Coleman (D-N.J.), Mark Takano (D-Calif.), Jesus G. “Chuy” García (D-Ill.), Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.), Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.), Nydia M. Velázquez (D-N.Y.), Federica Wilson (D-Fla.), Ro Khanna (D-Calif.), Yvette D. Clarke (D-N.Y.), Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.), Grace F. Napolitano (D-Calif.), Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.), Andy Levin (D-Mich.), James P. McGovern (D-Mass.), Raúl M. Grijalva (D-Ariz.), Carolyn B. Maloney (D-N.Y.), Henry C. “Hank” Johnson Jr. (D-Ga.), Alma S. Adams (D-N.C.), Ritchie Torres (D-N.Y.), Bennie G. Thompson (D-Miss.), Danny K. Davis (D-Ill.), Judy Chu (D-Calif.), Jahana Hayes (D-Conn.), John B. Larson (D-Conn.), Ted W. Lieu (D-Calif.), Terri A. Sewell (D-Ala.), Donald M. Payne, Jr (D-N.J.), Dwight Evans (D-Pa.), Adriano Espaillat (D-N.Y.), André Carson (D-Ind.), Peter Welch (D-Vt.), Jimmy Gomez (D-Calif.), Alan Lowenthal (D-Calif.), David N. Cicilline (D-R.I.), Cori Bush (D-Mo.), Marie Newman (D-Ill.), Adam B. Schiff (D-Calif.), J. Luis Correa (D-Calif.), Ann Kirkpatrick (D-Ariz.), Linda Sánchez (D-Calif.), Brendan F. Boyle (D-Pa.), Albio Sires (D-N.J.), Mark DeSaulnier (D-Calif.), Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-D.C.), Katie Porter (D-Calif.), Salud Carbajal (D-Calif.), Betty McCollum (D-Minn.), Sylvia R. Garcia (D-Texas), Frank Pallone (D-N.J.), Nanette Diaz Barragán (D-Calif.), Paul D. Tonko (D-N.Y.), Troy A. Carter (D-La.), G. K. Butterfield (D-N.C.), Jim Cooper (D-Tenn.), Tom Suozzi (D-N.Y.), Sanford D. Bishop, Jr (D-Ga.), Stephen F. Lynch (D-Mass.), Vicente Gonzalez (D-Texas), Emanuel Cleaver, II (D-Mo.), Michael F.Q. San Nicholas (D-Guam.), Anthony G. Brown (D-Md.), Sheila Cherfilus-McCormick (D-Fla.), and Lucy McBath (D-Ga.).
Senator Warren is one of the nation’s leading voices for student loan borrowers, holding companies accountable for predatory practices that harm and trap borrowers in years of debt and leading the call for student debt cancellation to boost our economy and help close the racial wealth gap for borrowers.
- Senator Warren, along with Senate Democratic Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), Senator Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), and U.S. Representatives Pramila Jaypal (D-Wash.) and Mark Takano (D-Calif.), urged Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona, urging the Department of Education (ED) to swiftly discharge the loans of borrowers defrauded by predatory for-profit colleges and universities, including those operated by Corinthian College.
- Senator Warren, along with Senate Majority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) and Representatives Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.), Ayanna Pressley (D-Mass.), Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.), and Katie Porter (D-Calif.) led more than 80 colleagues in a bicameral letter to the Department of Education calling for it to release the memo outlining the Biden administration’s legal authority to cancel federal student loan debt and immediately cancel up to $50,000 of debt for Federal student loan borrowers.
- Senator Warren, along with Senate Majority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) and Representative Ayanna Pressley (D-Mass.) released new analysis showing that resuming student loan payments would strip $85 billion every year from the economy.
- Senator Warren, along with Senators Van Hollen (D-Md.), Blumenthal (D-Conn.), and Smith (D-Minn.), sent letters to four federal loan servicers, requesting information on their plans to support borrowers when student loan payments resume.
- Senator Warren, along with Senators Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Tina Smith (D-Minn.), and Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) sent a letter to Maximus, the company that is assuming Navient’s federal student loans servicing contract, questioning its troubling history and seeking assurances that borrowers will receive appropriate services and protections during the transition.
- Senator Warren, along with Senators Cory A. Booker (D-N.J.), Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), Bernard Sanders (I-Vt.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Tina Smith (D-Minn.), Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.), and Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.) sent a letter to the Department of Education urging Secretary Cardona to use his authority to automatically remove all student loan borrowers in default.
- Senator Warren, along with Senators Van Hollen, Blumenthal, Brown, Smith, Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.), and Robert Menendez (D- NJ.) sent letters to the heads of Pennsylvania Higher Education Assistance Agency, Granite State, and Navient calling on them to correct past errors with borrowers’ accounts and address growing concerns over their preparedness to transfer millions of borrowers to new servicers.
- Senator Warren, along with Senator Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.) and Representative Ayanna Pressley (D-Mass.), released a report that detailed the ongoing failures of the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program for public servants in Massachusetts.
- At a hearing in July 2021, Senator Warren pushed for borrower protections after a major student loan servicing shakeup.
- In July 2021, Senator Warren released a statement regarding the end of the Pennsylvania Higher Education Assistance Agency's (PHEAA) contract servicing student loans with the Department of Education .
- In June 24, 2021, Senator Warren and John Kennedy (R-La.) called on PHEAA CEO to address concerns about false and misleading statements made during a subcommittee hearing on student loans, which was chaired by Senator Warren.
- In May 2021, Senator Warren led her colleagues in sending a letter requesting information about the steps the Department of Education and the Office of Federal Student Aid (FSA) are taking to help transition millions of federal student loan borrowers back into repayment ahead of the scheduled end to the pause on student loan payments and interest in September.
- In April 2021, Senators Warren and Raphael Warnock (D-Ga.) led a group of colleagues in a letter to Education Secretary Miguel Cardona urging the Department of Education to take swift action to automatically remove all federally-held student loan borrowers from default.
- That same month at her first hearing as chair of the Senate Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs Committee's Subcommittee on Economic Policy, Senator Warren called out PHEAA for its mismanagement of the Public Student Loan Forgiveness Program.
- Senator Warren also questioned Jack Remondi, CEO of Navient, on the company's long history of abusive and misleading behavior towards borrowers and their profiting off the broken student loan system.
- Senator Warren has also been continuing her calls for President Biden to use his existing authority to cancel $50,000 in student debt and highlighted data that she obtained from the Education Department revealing the benefit of student debt cancellation.
- In March 2021, Senators Warren and Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) applauded the passage of their Student Loan Tax Relief Act as part of the American Rescue Plan. The provision makes any student loan forgiveness tax-free, ensuring borrowers whose debt is fully or partially forgiven are not saddled with thousands of dollars in surprise taxes. During her time in the Senate, she has helped return tens of millions of dollars tax-free to students cheated by for-profit colleges.
- She demanded that the Department of Education hold student loan servicer, Great Lakes Education Loan Services, Inc., accountable for CARES Act blunder that likely lowered credit scores for millions of borrowers.
- She has worked with House Majority Whip James E. Clyburn (D-S.C.) to close the racial wealth gap by introducing legislation, the Student Loan Debt Relief Act, which would cancel student loan debt for 42 million Americans.
- She prioritized student debt relief and fought to lower student loan interest rates, introducing the Bank on Students Loan Fairness Act as her first bill in Congress.
- She conducted rigorous oversight of the for-profit college industry and helped secure three-quarters of a billion dollars in debt relief for students who were cheated by predatory for-profit colleges, including 4,500 Massachusetts students and more than 28,000 students across the country.
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