The Biden administration announced on Friday it was giving people with federal student loans until the end of January before they would have to resume repayments, in what it said would be the final extension.

The pause - which suspended payments, interest, and collections since March 2020 - had been due to expire at the end of September after several extensions. 

The announcement follows pressure from top congressional Democrats who urged the administration to continue pandemic relief into next year.  

But progressives including Rep. Ilhan Omar immediately said it did not go far enough and demanded President Biden use his powers to write off student debt.

'He should also sign the executive order and cancel student debt,' she said.

The Biden administration has been grappling with how to resume student loan repayments without forcing millions of borrowers into hardship. On Friday, it announced one final delay

The Biden administration has been grappling with how to resume student loan repayments without forcing millions of borrowers into hardship. On Friday, it announced one final delay

Education Secretary Miguel Cardona said the extension would give borrowers the time they needed to prepare to resume repayments next year

The progressive wing of the Democratic Party, including the so-called Squad, was quick to go one step further and demand that Biden cancel student debt

The progressive wing of the Democratic Party, including the so-called Squad, was quick to go one step further and demand that Biden cancel student debt

President Biden said the pause had been a 'critical lifeline,' that meant people did have to choose between paying for necessities and servicing their debt. Friday's jobs numbers showed that the economy was in a better place than it was last year.

'As today’s jobs numbers show, we have the tools that will allow us to beat COVID-19 and keep our economy recovering at a record rate,' he said as he announced the extension.

'We know there is more work to do and the road will still be long for many people – especially for the one in six adults and one in three young people who have federal student loans.'

Officials said the delay and a clear start date would allow borrowers time to get their finances in order. 

'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,' said Education Secretary Miguel Cardona. 

'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.'    

The department said it would be issuing more information about how the process would restart in the coming days. 

The progressive wing of Biden's own party has stepped up its campaigning in recent days after persuading him to issue a new moratorium on evictions.

On Friday, members of the so-called squad wasted no time in saying the pause on loan repayments was only a step in the right direction.

'Thousands of families will sleep easier tonight,' tweeted Rep. Ayanna Pressley.

'Now let’s #CancelStudentDebt outright Mr President.'   

The Education Department allowed borrowers to suspect repayments in March last year, under President Donald Trump, as part of an effort to help some 42 million people weather the pandemic.

Rep. Ilhan Omar
Rep Ayanna Pressley

Reps Ilhan Omar and Ayanna Pressley were among progressives who immediately called on President Biden to go further and ease the burden on borrowers by cancelling student debt


The government has twice extended the freeze.

In June,  Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts led more than 60 other Democrats in urging the president to issue a third delay.

Failure to so, they said, 'could create an unnecessary drag on the economic recovery, especially with unemployment benefits also set to expire in September.'

They have also been at the forefront of Senate calls for Biden to go further, asking him to write off $50,000 in debt for each borrower.

Biden supported cancelling $10,000 during the election campaign, but has steered away from the idea in office. 

But the extension triggered condemnation from conservatives, including Rep. Virginia Foxx, the most senior Republican on the House Education and Labor Committee.

'This extension does a grave disservice to borrowers across the country, and our children will pay the ultimate price for this irresponsible delay,' she said.

'Secretary Cardona is using the permanent pandemic narrative to wield power rather than enact responsible solutions to help borrowers get back on track.'

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