Jen Psaki, the White House press secretary, seemed to suggest that President Joe Biden will not be wiping out the entire $1.5 trillion federal student-debt load during his time in office.
In response to a question Sunday from a Fox News reporter on whether student-loan borrowers will ever have to make a payment under Biden, Psaki responded: “I suspect that at some time you will.”
“But again, we are going to continue to assess every month, every few months, on where things stand, both looking at COVID but also economic data and where we need to continue to help give the American people some breathing room,” Psaki added.
Last week, Biden announced his fourth extension of the pause on student-loan payments, with waived interest, through August 31. It came about a month before the prior pause was set to expire on May 1, answering the calls of many Democratic lawmakers and advocates who argued that borrowers were not financially prepared to be thrown back into repayment. But the extension fell short of broad student-debt cancellation, which many of those same advocates have called for.
As Insider reported, many Democrats were not satisfied with the temporary nature of the four-month extension of relief. They argued that if Biden has the authority to continually pause payments, he has the authority to permanently cancel student debt for federal borrowers.
“Glad to see the President extend the moratorium on student loans,” Minnesota Rep. Ilhan Omar wrote on Twitter on Thursday. “Once this extension expires he should extend it again. And then after that, again. And then again, and again…actually you know what, why don’t we just cancel it?”
Although campaigning to approve $10,000 in student-debt cancellation, Biden has since been largely silent on the issue. But Psaki has told reporters on numerous occasions that if Congress sends Biden a bill to cancel student debt, he would be happy to sign it, and she also recently indicated that some amount of debt relief is not off the table.
“He has not ruled out, but I don’t have any update on that,” Psakitold a reporter who asked about the potential for broad loan forgiveness earlier this month. “And I would note that, again, he would encourage Congress to send him a bill canceling $10,000 in student debt, something that he talked about looking forward to signing on the campaign trail.”
While Republican lawmakers have criticized the additional payment-pause extension and slammed broad student-loan forgiveness, citing its potential cost to taxpayers, millions of student-loan borrowers will once again have to wait and see whether they’re on track for more relief when August rolls around.