Harris says Americans under the pressures of student-loan debt ‘are literally making decisions about whether they can have a family, whether they can buy a home’
- Kamala Harris said the White House was seeking a way to “creatively” address student debt.
- The Biden administration in December halted student-loan payments until May 1.
- She said the administration must figure out how to “relieve the pressure that students are feeling.”
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Vice President Kamala Harris said in an interview that aired Sunday that the Biden administration was working to find a way to “creatively” address student debt, citing the pressures it causes for Americans.
“I think that we have to continue to do what we’re doing and figure out how we can creatively relieve the pressure that students are feeling because of their student-loan debt,” Harris told CBS News’ Margaret Brennan on “Face the Nation.”
Harris said Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona was “working on what we can do and must do frankly to relieve the pressures of student-loan debt.”
“Graduates and former students across our country are literally making decisions about whether they can have a family, whether they can buy a home,” she said, adding that she previously had student-loan debt.
“It’s no small matter, and we need to figure out a way to relieve debt,” she said. “So it’s a fair issue in terms of the seriousness of the issue.”
As the Omicron coronavirus variant caused COVID-19 cases in the US to rise in December, the Biden administration extended the federal pause on student-loan payments, allowing borrowers to avoid paying until May 1.
“What I believe we must do,” Harris said, “is continue to be vigilant and fighting for folks who have a right to be seen and their circumstances to be heard and understood because we have the ability to actually alleviate the burdens that people are carrying that make it difficult for them to get through the day or in the month.”
In a statement on Wednesday, Cardona said the extension of the repayment pause “will provide critical relief to borrowers who continue to face financial hardships as a result of the pandemic, and will allow our Administration to assess the impacts of Omicron on student borrowers.”
“As we prepare for the return to repayment in May, we will continue to provide tools and supports to borrowers so they can enter into the repayment plan that is responsive to their financial situation, such as an income-driven repayment plan,” he added.
Some Democratic lawmakers, including Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, have called on the administration to go further than delaying debt payments, asking President Joe Biden to cancel $50,000 in student-loan debt per person.
During his presidential campaign, Biden pledged to forgive “a minimum” of $10,000 in student-loan debt per person.
“Young people and other student debt holders bore the brunt of the last crisis,” he said in a tweet in March 2020. “It shouldn’t happen again.”