- Biden’s education secretary said student loan borrowers will have to start paying off what they can.
- Miguel Cardona told MSNBC’s Symone Sanders that student loan forgiveness is “quite complex.”
- “The work we’ve done from day one under this government has put borrowers first,” he said.
Education Secretary Miguel Cardona offered a reality check to 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 pause for more than two years due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. First implemented by former President Donald Trump in March 2020, the delay has been extended several times since then. And in April, President Joe Biden extended the break yet again, telling borrowers that they should prepare to resume payments in September.
Cardona’s comments echo those of former press secretary Jen Psaki, who said in April that she expects student loan borrowers to have to pay their debts “at some point” during the Biden administration.
Meanwhile, lawmakers and advocates continue to urge the administration to consider widespread student loan forgiveness, with progressives pushing for $50,000 per borrower — an amount the president himself has said he is not considering. But, according to a recent report by Politico, the top lawmakers pushing for student loan forgiveness — Sens. Elizabeth Warren, Chuck Schumer and Raphael Warnock – want Biden to delay issuing an executive order until they have a chance to meet with him one last time and urge him to give great relief.
Cardona avoided specific questions about the status of the president’s campaign pledge to forgive $10,000 per borrower, telling Sanders the issue is “quite complex.”
“As I said before, these talks are ongoing. You heard the president a few weeks ago mention that something should happen soon, that he’s talking to the Department of Education and the DOJ about it,” Cardona said.
Earlier this month, the White House indicated that Biden is considering tying student loan forgiveness to income and limiting forgiveness to borrowers earning less than $125,000 to $150,000, or $250,000 to $300,000 for married couples. who file joint tax returns. But former press secretary Jen Psaki later said during a press conference that those limits “are not necessarily related” to the final policy Biden will implement, and Politico also reported that income limits will be difficult because the Department of Education alone does not have the data to accomplish this.
Cardona highlighted additional steps the Biden administration has already taken to alleviate the national student loan debt, which amounts to more than $1.7 trillion, including the forgiveness of $18 billion in debt for more than 725,000 disabled borrowers and those defrauded by for-profit schools. Cardona has also begun to carry out reviews of student loan forgiveness programs that do not work as they should.
“I can assure you that the work we’ve done from day one under this administration has put borrowers first, forgave loans wherever possible, but also made it a lot easier for our borrowers to manage,” he told Sanders.
Republican lawmakers have increasingly been critical of sweeping student loan relief, arguing that it will benefit the richest and exacerbate inflation. But as 45 million Americans continue to wait for ample relief from student loans, Cardona said she knows her job isn’t done yet.
“And as I said before, we’re about a year and a few months away. We’re not – we’re not done, but that doesn’t mean we haven’t stopped looking for ways to protect our borrowers and provide some loan debt relief.”