Education Secretary Miguel Cardona confirmed on Sunday that he expects the Biden administration to announce in “the next week or so” a decision on federal student loan payments.
“We've been talking daily about this, and I can tell you that the American people will hear within the next week or so what the president and the Department of Education will be doing around that,” he said on NBC’s Meet the Press.
With less than two weeks to go until the federal student loan repayment moratorium expires, millions of borrowers are still unsure whether they will have to restart payments starting on September 1. In addition to potentially extending the pause for a seventh time, the White House has indicated that President Joe Biden is considering forgiving $10,000 of student loan debt per borrower, excluding those who earn more than $125,000 a year.
The Biden administration, however, has continued to face pressure from some Democratic lawmakers to cancel up to $50,000 in debt per borrower.
Last week, the Education Department approved the cancellation of $3.9 billion in student loan debt for 208,000 students who attended the now-defunct ITT Technical Institute, which shut down shortly after the government halted its federal funding because it had failed to show it was following certain accreditation standards.
Since taking office, Biden has so far canceled roughly $32 billion of student loan debt for more than 1.5 million borrowers. The nation’s student loan debt currently sits at more than $1.7 trillion spread across forty-five million Americans, according to data compiled by the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis.
Meanwhile, during his appearance on CBS News’ Face the Nation on Sunday, Cardona contended that states and school districts should tap into federal Covid-19 relief funds to address the ongoing teacher shortages seen across the country.
“This is a year full of promise and opportunities for students who have, for the last two years, put up with too much,” he said. “And thanks to the American Rescue Plan, the dollars are there to make sure that we can open up our schools with sufficient educators. Our students need more, not less.”
CBS reported that some school districts in states like California and Missouri have shortened school weeks from five days to four days largely due to lack of resources.
“When I hear reports of districts shortening up their week, it concerns me. Our students need additional support, they need smaller class sizes, they need tutors, they need after-school programs,” Cardona continued.
“So, let's use the American Rescue Plan dollars to bring back retired teachers, to work with universities to make sure that our student teachers are starting a little bit earlier into their profession using the dollars that were put forward by the federal government. We think it's important that our students get more this year, not less,” he concluded.
Ethen Kim Lieser is a Washington state-based Finance and Tech Editor who has held posts at Google, The Korea Herald, Lincoln Journal Star, AsianWeek, and Arirang TV. Follow or contact him on LinkedIn.