In early April, White House Chief of Staff Ron Klein gave a ray of hope to supporters of the cancellation of student loans when he announced that President Joe Biden called on the Department of Education to reverse its debt through executive action Asked to prepare a memorandum examining the legal authority.
"Hopefully we'll see in the next few weeks," Klein said at the time. "And then he would look at that legal authority, he would look at the policy issues around him, and then he would make a decision. He hasn't made a decision on that. In fact, he hasn't yet received a memo that he has That decision has to start with a focus. "
The White House has added Biden's policy approach to student debt relief in a memo to the Department of Education, but about two months after Klein's comments, it is unclear when the department's review will be completed. Advocates for cancellation of student loans say they have been left in the dark over the memo deadline and are concerned that the administration is not willing to act seriously on the issue.
"We all believe that when someone says 'a few weeks', it's definitely not two months. It's taking too long," said Braxton Brewington, a spokeswoman for the Date Collective, a consortium of debtors who Widely advocated cancellation of student loans.
"We believe this is a stall strategy," Brewington said.
When asked for updates on the timeline of the memo, a White House official said: "The president believes that student loans help finance the path to opportunity, not become a lifelong burden, and therefore White House staff continue to work with agency staff. Find debt relief action that can be taken administratively. "
The Department of Education was also unable to provide review status.
A spokesman for the Department of Education said, "We are working closely with the Department of Justice and the White House to review all options to cancel student loans." Memo is being prepared by the Department of Justice, headed by the Department of Education.
"We have not been told that this is not happening, but we are trying to investigate," said Natalia Abrams, executive director of the student loan crisis.
"We want to keep a timeline," she said. "There is definitely disappointment among student loan borrowers."
It is unclear whether the review will be communicated to the public once the review is complete or the memo will be made public at any time.
Advocates say the lack of transparency from the Biden administration has been extended with a deadline of September 30, when the student loan period is about to expire. Supporters of loan cancellation have been urging the White House to take action before then and, at the very least, communicate clearly with borrowers about the administration's intended policies so that no one is caught off guard if the payment Finally be the cause of this decline.
"Many lenders, especially new student loan borrowers who never went into repayment, expect to extend the [payment break] approximately," Abrams said. "They need to notify the borrowers as soon as possible."
Neither the White House nor the Department of Education has stated whether the administration is seriously considering extending this ban. Earlier this month, Education Secretary Miguel Cardona said the extension of the pause was "not out of the question, but it is September 30 at the moment."
In another gentleman Doug Amhof, Jewish Americans see 'an ally in the White House'
Persis Yu, director of the National Consumer Law Center's Student Loan Borrowers Assistance Project, said the Department of Education's memo was "overdue" and called for more "transparency and communication" in the process.
"Our hope is that policy makers will coordinate and communicate with lenders advocacy groups, and I think it's a big disappointment. And many people don't feel like they are being heard in the process," Yu said said.
In March 2020, Congress passed the CARES Act, which halted federal student loan payments until September 2020 and kept interest rates at 0 percent for nearly 42 million federal borrowers in an effort to reduce the economic impact of the coronovirus epidemic.
Then, President Donald Trump took executive action to postpone student loan payments until January 2021, and Biden signed an executive order extending the payment break through September 30, 2021, his first day in office.
As the September 30 date draws to a close, advocates say they plan to step up pressure on the White House with calls from Democrats - led by New York Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts - Biden to cancel a $ 50,000 federal student loan through executive action.
Democrats and other proponents of cancellation of student loans argue that the president has the authority to cancel student loans under the Higher Education Act 1965, which gave the Secretary of Education broad authority over student loans. By withholding student loan payments during the coronovirus epidemic, Biden has already exercised that right, argues proponents of loan cancellation. Many lawyers and legal scholars have written the analysis in support of that view.
Biden has said he supports signing a bill passed by Congress abolishing $ 10,000 in student loans, but has expressed significant reservations about taking executive action on the loan cancellation. He has also indicated that he thinks the $ 50,000 is too lenient and would primarily benefit people with expensive private college degrees.