People will have to start paying ‘what they can’ on student loans

  • Biden’s education secretary said student loan borrowers will eventually have to start paying back what they can afford.
  • Miguel Cardona told MSNBC’s Symone Sanders that student loan forgiveness is “pretty complex.”
  • “The work we’ve done since day one under this administration has put borrowers first,” he said.

Education Secretary Miguel Cardona offered a stark reality for hopeful student loan borrowers this week: Payments are coming back, and borrowers should be ready to make them.

“At some point, people are going to have to start paying what they can afford,” Cardona told MSNBC’s Symone D. Sanders in an exclusive interview scheduled to air this week.

Federal student loan payments and accrued interest have been on hold for more than two years due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. First implemented by former President Donald Trump in March 2020, the pardon has been extended multiple times since then. And in April, President Joe Biden extended the pause once again, telling borrowers they should prepare to resume payments in September.

Cardona’s comments mirror those of former press secretary Jen Psaki, who said in April that she expects student loan borrowers will have to pay off their debt “at some point” during the Biden administration.

Meanwhile, lawmakers and advocates continue to urge the administration to consider broad student loan forgiveness, with progressives pushing for $50,000 per borrower, an amount the president himself has said he’s not considering. But according to a recent Politico report, the top lawmakers pushing for student loan forgiveness — Sens. Elizabeth Warren, Chuck Schumer, and Raphael Warnock: They want Biden to hold off on issuing an executive order until they have a chance to meet with him one last time and urge him to do some serious relief.

Cardona dodged specific questions about the status of the president’s campaign promise to forgive $10,000 per borrower, telling Sanders the issue is “pretty complex.”

“As I said before, those talks are ongoing. You heard the president a couple of weeks ago mention that something should happen soon, that he is having discussions with the Department of Education and the DOJ about this,” Cardona said.

Earlier this month, the White House indicated that Biden is considering tying student loan forgiveness to income and limiting forgiveness for borrowers making less than $125,000 to $150,000, or $250,000 to $300,000 for couples filing joint tax returns. But former press secretary Jen Psaki later said during a news conference that those limits are “not necessarily related to” the final policy Biden will implement, and Politico also reported that income thresholds will be difficult because the Education Department itself it just doesn’t have the data to do that.

Cardona highlighted additional steps the Biden administration has already taken to alleviate the nation’s student loan debt, which stands at more than $1.7 trillion, including forgiving $18 billion of debt for more than 725,000 disabled and defrauded borrowers. by for-profit schools. Cardona has also begun conducting reviews of student loan forgiveness programs that aren’t working the way they should.

“I can assure you that the work we have done since day one under this administration has put borrowers first, forgiven loans where possible, but has also made the process much easier for our borrowers to navigate. ”, he told Sanders.

Republican lawmakers have been increasingly vocal in criticizing sweeping student loan relief, arguing that it will benefit the wealthiest while exacerbating inflation. But while 45 million Americans continue to wait for broad student loan relief, Cardona said he knows his work isn’t done yet.

“And as I said before, we’ve been in about a year and a few months. We’re not — we’re not done, but that doesn’t mean we haven’t stopped looking at ways to protect our borrowers and provide some loan debt relief.”

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