After months of delays, it’s official. The federal government plans to resume loan repayment for federal student borrowers at the beginning of May—though the current pause on repayment is likely one of the reasons we’re seeing any economic recovery at all. Over the past two years of the pandemic, salary freezes, furloughs, and contract nonrenewals have hurt the faculty and staff who make our colleges run. With the latest wave of COVID-19 cases, it’s clear that further action is needed to protect higher ed workers and the broader economy.
The mammoth Build Back Better Act’s investments in social programs appears to be on ice indefinitely, threatening President Biden’s ability to fulfill the vision he laid out on the campaign trail. But Biden still can deliver on the promises that he made to struggling student loan borrowers, not just by further delaying payments, but by canceling all student debt.
The Department of Education has delivered important reforms this year to help struggling borrowers, in particular those defrauded by for-profit colleges and those with permanent disabilities. Of particular note, the department unveiled a special waiver period to address problems with the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program (we’ll be sharing more resources for AAUP members soon).
But the president hasn’t acted on his power to cancel or reduce federal student loan balances. Not only is the power of forgiveness confirmed by lawyers at the Department of Education and external legal organizations, but his predecessor already used it to pause student loan repayment.
There’s no reason to wait any longer. Given the ongoing impacts of the pandemic, borrowers deserve certainty on the question of debt cancellation.Can you tell President Biden to cancel student debt?
Thank you for taking action.
Kaitlyn Vitez, AAUP Government Relations