A coalition of 225 organizations on Monday pressured the Biden administration to extend a pause on federal student loan repayments that are going to expire at the end of this year given GOP lawsuits targeting the plan to cancel up to $20,000 in debt per borrower.
Since President Joe Biden announced his long-anticipated debt cancellation plan in August, opponents have launched at least six lawsuits to block it—leading to two court decisions that are currently preventing the much-needed relief from reaching Americans.
The U.S. Department of Education (DOE) application website now explains: “Courts have issued orders blocking our student debt relief program. As a result, at this time, we are not accepting applications. We are seeking to overturn those orders.”
According to the letter:
In fewer than 45 days, as tens of millions of student loan borrowers remain closer than ever to historic debt relief, student loan payments are set to resume for the first time in nearly three years. This threatens to set borrowers back financially as our country grapples with the lasting effects of the Covid-19 pandemic, as our economy continues to experience the highest level of inflation in nearly four decades, and as government regulators sound alarms on rising levels of borrower distress. We, the undersigned 225 organizations, urge you to immediately extend the payment pause until your administration is able to fully implement debt relief for all eligible borrowers and to continue to use every legal authority at your disposal to make this relief real.
“It is important to remember that these borrowers have student debt because the cost of college, a critical pathway to the middle class, has spiraled out of control,” notes the letter. “They also have this debt because past administrations routinely broke their promises to deliver affordable loan payments and debt relief. These borrowers deserve more than another broken promise.”
“We cannot allow these blatantly political lawsuits to throw millions of borrowers into financial catastrophe,” the letter argues.
The letter calling for an extension of the payment pause comes after the DOE this past weekend began sending out updates to the 26 million borrowers who sent in their loan forgiveness applications before the administration stopped accepting them earlier this month.
“We reviewed your application and determined that you are eligible for loan relief under the plan,” the email states, according to Axios. “We have sent this approval on to your loan servicer. You do not need to take any further action.”
The email further pledges that “your application is complete and approved, and we will discharge your approved debt if and when we prevail in court.”
Meanwhile, Bloomberg reported Friday that experts say “Biden has little choice other than to extend the almost three-year freeze on U.S. student loan payments, as his attempt to forgive some of the debts gets mired in legal challenges.”
Originally published at Commondreams.org.