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Students attend a graduation with the amount of money they owe in student loans on their caps.

Students attend a graduation with the amount they owe in student loan debt emblazoned on their caps. (Photo: YouTube/screenshot)

'Just Cancel the Debt,' Advocates Say as Biden Admin Develops Strategy for Restarting Student Loan Payments

Student debt cancellation "is good economic policy that will change the lives of millions of families," said Rep. Ayanna Pressley.

Julia Conley

Economic justice advocates on Monday expressed frustration at reporting that the Biden administration is examining ways to ensure "a smooth transition" for millions of Americans who will be required to begin making student loan payments at the end of January 2022—repeating a demand that President Joe Biden cancel student debt instead.
 
According to Politico, the U.S. Department of Education is working on several proposals to work with the country's 45 million student loan borrowers after the moratorium on payments—which began as the coronavirus pandemic started and which Biden extended after taking office—ends early next year.

"Student debt cancellation is a racial, economic, and inter-generational issue."

 
The department plans to target an outreach campaign to people considered "at risk" for missing payments, including those who were delinquent in their repayments prior to the pandemic, those who didn't graduate college, and people who recently started repaying their student debt.
 
The outreach campaign and other strategies being discussed as part of the department's "return to repayment" or "R2R" plan are "aimed at averting a surge in delinquencies when payments resume in February," according to Politico.
 
The grassroots campaign Debt Collective called the department's plans "morally bankrupt," calling on the administration to listen to the popular demand that it cancel student debt.
 
Focusing instead on strategizing a seamless return to repayments "is how you end up with a Trump (or worse) victory in 2024 with a filibuster proof GOP majority," said the group.
 
Other strategies the department is discussing include offering a three-month grace period to borrowers who miss payments, with those borrowers' credit scores being unaffected by late payments in the first 90 days after the moratorium ends; "Operation Fresh Start," which would pull seven million borrowers out of default; and a plan to allow borrowers to enroll in income-based repayment programs via phone "for a limited time."
 
Rep. Ayanna Pressley (D-Mass.) reiterated that Biden "can and must" cancel student debt—which legal experts agree he has the authority to do under Section 432(a) of the Higher Education Act—and noted that cancellation would be "good economic policy."
 
 
"The Congresswoman is exactly right," tweeted Debt Collective. "Student debt cancellation would boost our annual GDP by A LOT, help Black and brown households who are suffering the most, and alleviate the burden on our seniors who risk having their social security checks garnished for skyrocketing student loans."

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