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Biden extends student loan repayment pause amid omicron surge

Student loan repayments have been paused for nearly two years now.

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President Joe Biden issued a statement on Wednesday that he will be extending the pause on student loan repayments for an additional 90 days. The forbearance, previously set to end on Jan. 31, will now extend to May 1, 2022. 

While the statement points to strong labor participation in the US -- including the fewest unemployment filings in more than 50 years -- it also acknowledges that "millions of student loan borrowers are still coping with the impacts of the pandemic." Omicron's surge is now responsible for 73% of new COVID cases in the US. 

Millions of student loan borrowers "need some more time before resuming payments," according to Biden's statement. 

Federal student loan repayments have been paused for nearly two years now. Since the pause was first enacted, interest hasn't accumulated and collections on defaulted debt have been put on hold.

Former President Donald Trump first enacted the pause on student loans in March 2020 and extended it until January 2021. Biden had since extended the pause two more times after taking office, with his administration warning the January extension would be the last. 

However, with omicron sweeping through the US, Biden's administration has decided to further extend the student loan repayment moratorium.

The president also called on student loan borrowers to "do their part," according to the statement. "Take full advantage of the Department of Education's resources to help you prepare for payments to resume; look at options to lower your payments through income-based repayment plans; explore public service loan forgiveness; and make sure you are vaccinated and boosted when eligible."