Graphic of President Biden and different policy considerations. Credit: Marta Lukomska | Mustang News / Musttang News

President Joe Biden announced on Wednesday that pandemic relief on student loan payments will be extended through May 1.  

The Student Loan Pause was originally set to expire Jan. 31. The extension was a response to the COVID-19 pandemic and has been extended multiple times by former President Donald Trump and now Biden, through the CARES Act enacted in March 2020. 

The past extension, made in August to January, was the “last one” according to the Biden administration.

However, due to the rise of the transmissible Omicron variant and its potential threats, concern contributed to the decision for the 90-day extension as a way to provide relief. 

“The extension will allow the Administration to assess the impacts of the Omicron variant on student borrowers and provide additional time for borrowers to plan for the resumption of payments and reduce the risk of delinquency and defaults after restart,” according to the US Department of Education. 

With a collective student debt of $1.37 trillion, the extension is expected to help the 41 million borrowers and those falling behind on payments.

“As we prepare for the return to repayment in May, we will continue to provide tools and support to borrowers so they can enter into the repayment plan that is responsive to their financial situation, such as an income-driven repayment plan,” Education Secretary Miguel Cardona said in a press release. 

What this means for Cal Poly graduates

Since March 2020, the federal student loan interest rate has been frozen at 0%. According to the Cal Poly Financial Aid Office, the extension does not apply to those currently attending Cal Poly.

“However, for our recent June grads, it does mean that their first payments, which normally would have started this month, should not have additional payments due until May, giving them more time to get settled into the job market and prepared to begin payments or settled into graduate school and able to defer payments,” Financial Aid Office Executive Director Gerrie Hatten said in an email to Mustang News.

The extension will apply to parents helping out with loans as well. 

Amid the Omicron surge, Biden urges student loan borrowers to do their part. 

“Take full advantage of the Department of Education’s resources to help you prepare for payments to resume; look at options to lower your payments through income-based repayment plans; explore public service loan forgiveness; and make sure you are vaccinated and boosted when eligible,” Biden said.

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