Biden is expected to announce a decision on student-loan forgiveness in the next 3 weeks. The White House says he's not ready yet.

·3 min read
  • President Joe Biden has said he will announce a decision on student-loan relief before August 31.

  • The White House press secretary, Karine Jean-Pierre, said Tuesday that he wasn't ready to announce.

  • Borrowers are awaiting an announcement on debt cancellation and a payment-pause extension.

With the potential for broad student-loan relief and an extension of the payment pause, August is a high-stakes month for millions of federal borrowers.

But it appears President Joe Biden isn't quite prepared to announce relief.

Biden said last month that he would give himself until August 31 to decide on broad student-loan forgiveness. That's also when payments are set to resume. He's said to be considering $10,000 in relief for borrowers making under $150,000 a year. And while Education Secretary Miguel Cardona in June promised borrowers "ample notice" about any change to their balances, there hasn't been an update.

The White House press secretary, Karine Jean-Pierre, told reporters on Tuesday that Biden would stick with his end-of-August timeline.

"So we're still kind of at the beginning, getting into the middle of August," Jean-Pierre said. "So when he's ready to make that decision, we will let you know."

She said Biden "understands how student loans could affect a family and how the pressure of that can really be a lot and put a lot of weight on a family's purse or economic situation," adding: "So we understand that. He is making — he is going to make his decision on this, and when he has something to say, we will share that."

Lawmakers, advocates, and student-loan companies have criticized the uncertainty surrounding student-loan payments. Some have speculated that Biden will extend the pandemic-era payment pause for the fifth time, as the Education Department recently instructed loan companies to halt messaging about payments resuming.

Lawmakers on both sides of the aisle have requested information on how the department plans to execute student-loan relief efficiently, and while the department has not provided information, Politico recently obtained a memo outlining detailed plans to implement debt relief within months of Biden's sign-off.

But borrowers have little time to prepare. Scott Buchanan, the executive director of the Student Loan Servicing Alliance, a trade group that represents federal student-loan servicers, told Insider earlier in August that companies should have been communicating with borrowers "a month ago."

"And that needs to happen," he said. "At this point, until the White House gives any different guidance, payments resume on September 1."

While Republican lawmakers have criticized broad relief — three recently introduced legislation that would block Biden from implementing expansive loan forgiveness — some advocates want the president to go big to reach as many borrowers as possible.

Derrick Johnson, the president of the NAACP, wrote a letter in July urging Biden to extend the payment pause and cancel at least $50,000 in student debt per borrower.

"The American people are anxious. Voters are anxious. Your base is anxious. Extending the freeze will only extend the anxiety that millions of Americans feel," Johnson wrote. "Thus, any extension must be accompanied by meaningful cancellation," he added. "We urge you to cancel a minimum of $50,000 as Black borrowers — drowning in an average of $53,000 in student debt — have virtually no realistic way to pay it back in today's unjust economy."

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