As part of the federal government’s emergency response to the COVID-19 outbreak, all student loan payments were suspended and all interest was waived for the time being. Over the last three years, those emergency restrictions have been extended eight times, even after other pandemic-related measures have been lifted.
The resumption is the outcome of a debt ceiling agreement struck by Congress and the Biden administration in June, with the Biden administration bending in certain respects on the student loan problem in order to get the votes needed to approve the appropriations bill.
According to Richard Funderburg, an associate professor of public management and policy at the University of Illinois Springfield, the student loan pause was always intended to be temporary, in recognition of the burden placed on people who were forced to stay at home and away from their jobs due to the pandemic.
Knowing that people’s earnings would be disrupted, we established a number of policies – not only this one, but a number of policies – to assist individuals in weathering the storm,” Funderburg added. “A natural policy during that period is to defer payment on student loans.”
Negotiations over the debt ceiling yielded the fruit of ongoing student loan payments commencing in October, three years after the moratorium began. However, through executive order, the Biden administration attempted to defray the costs for a wide spectrum of people.
The United States Supreme Court voted 6-3 along ideological lines to halt the program, finding the executive branch overreached in attempting to cancel student loans through fiat.