Washington, Aug 7 (IANS): US President Joe Biden's administration announced that it was extending the pause on federal student loans one last time through January 31, 2022 due to the coronavirus pandemic.
"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," Xinhua news agency quoted Education Secretary Miguel Cardona as saying in a statement.
"The Department believes this additional time and a definitive end date will allow borrowers to plan for the resumption of payments and reduce the risk of delinquency and defaults after restart," the statement said.
Student loan payments in the country have been paused since Congress passed the CARES Act last year but were due to end in September.
During the pause, borrowers do not need to make payments and interest will not accrue on their remaining balance.
Collecting on the country's $1.6 trillion student loan bills is a daunting task even during normal times, local analysts said.
Meanwhile, a number of Democratic lawmakers argued that the Biden administration doesn't go far enough on the student loan issue.
"While this temporary relief is welcome, it doesn't go far enough. Our broken student loan system continues to exacerbate racial wealth gaps and hold back our entire economy," Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer, progressive senator Elizabeth Warren and House Democratic lawmaker Ayanna Pressley said in a joint statement.
The Biden administration has cancelled $1.5 billion in student loan debt in total, according to a The Hill report.