The Biden administration on Wednesday extended a student loan moratorium that has allowed millions of Americans to put off debt payments during the pandemic.
Under the action, payments on federal student loans will remain paused through May 1. Interest rates will remain at 0% during that period, and debt collection efforts will be suspended. Those measures have been in place since early in the pandemic, but were set to expire Jan. 31.
President Joe Biden said financial recovery from the pandemic will take longer than job recovery, especially for those with student loans.
The policy applies to more than 36 million Americans who have student loans that are held by the federal government. Their collective debt totals more than $1.37 trillion, according to the latest Education Department data. About a third of borrowers are in default or delinquency and the average monthly payment is $400 a month.
The extension of the loan moratorium comes as decision whether to erase large swaths of student debt altogether is still on the table.
Additional reporting by The Associated Press.