Merkley Statement on POTUS’ Student Loan Debt Cancellation, Repayment Pause Extension

Washington D.C. – Oregon’s U.S. Senator Jeff Merkley issued the following statement after President Joe Biden’s announcement canceling $10,000 in student loan debt for non-Pell borrowers and $20,000 for Pell grant recipients who make less than $125,000 annually or families earning less than $250,000 per year, as well as an extended repayment freeze through December 31, 2022.

“As the son of blue-collar parents and the first in my family to graduate from college, I know firsthand that affordability is a huge factor in whether middle class students believe there is a path for them to pursue their dreams through higher education. And I know that for many low-income students who graduate with enormous debt, that debt is a burden that affects job opportunities, home ownership, starting a business, and plans for marriage or for starting a family.

“Thus, I strongly support President Biden’s decision to extend the pause on loan repayment and to cancel $10,000 of debt for the majority of borrowers, and up to $20,000 for Pell grant recipients. This decision will eliminate or reduce college debt for millions of Americans, improving opportunities, and stimulating our economy. This is welcome news!

“While I applaud this action, let’s view it not as a solution for college debt, but as a down payment on the solution, a catalyst for further reforms. For every American child to have the opportunity to thrive, we must make college an affordable option for all. I will continue to pursue more sweeping reforms, from free community college tuition to legislation like my Affordable Loans for Any Student Act that guarantees affordable, simple income-based repayment plans for any federal loan borrower. Affordable college for every student will produce a more prosperous future for all.”