Pause on Student Loan Payments Extended to 2022

Group of young people using a laptop to research student loans.
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Borrowers will receive an extra four-month reprieve from student loan payments, after the federal government announced a new extension of a pandemic relief program.

Key Takeaways

  • The federal government on Friday extended the reprieve on student loan payments until Jan. 31, 2022.
  • The pandemic-era relief program had been set to expire Sept. 30. 
  • No more extensions will be given, the Education Department said.

Eight weeks from the program’s Sept. 30 expiration, the pause on student loan payments, interest, and default loan collections has been extended until Jan. 31, 2022, the Education Department announced Friday. This is the final time it will extend the pause, the department said, adding that the definitive end date will allow borrowers to better plan for the resumption of payments.

About 26 million borrowers have not had to make payments on their federal student loans thanks to the relief program, according to department data, with interest waived for approximately 41 million. Those borrowers will receive notice about the new repayment start date from the federal government in the coming days, a statement issued Friday said.

“The payment pause has been a lifeline that allowed millions of Americans to focus on their families, health, and finances instead of student loans during the national emergency,” Education Secretary Miguel Cardona said in a statement Friday. “As our nation’s economy continues to recover from a deep hole, this final extension will give students and borrowers the time they need to plan for restart and ensure a smooth pathway back to repayment.”

Pause Began March 2020

Payments and interest on federal student loans have been paused since March 2020, at the outset of the pandemic. In one of his first acts in office, President Joe Biden issued an eight-month extension in January, pushing the program’s expiration at least to Sept. 30. Little had been said officially about the pause since then, despite a suggestion by Cardona in May that another extension was “not out of the question.” The lack of an update left borrowers and loan servicers alike confused as the deadline approached.

Pressure to lengthen the pause had built in recent months, with lawmakers and nonprofit organizations asking Biden to extend the deadline, especially after a pair of loan servicers—the companies hired by the federal government to manage student loans—announced last month their intention to quit in December.

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