Feds extend suspension of student loan payments

January 11, 2022

The Biden administration again extended the pause on federal student loan repayments, this time through May 1.

The additional 90 days without monthly payments, announced Dec. 22, 2021, by the Department of Education, extends a suspension first enacted in March 2020 through the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act. As part of the larger federal response to COVID-19, the bill and subsequent extensions have not only paused federal student loan payments but also suspended collections on defaulted loans and maintained a 0% interest rate on educational loans.

Graduation mortar board cap on one hundred dollar bills concept for the cost of a college and university education

The Dec. 22 announcement indicates the ongoing suspension affects about 41 million borrowers. The announcement also states that the extension will let the administration assess the impact of the SARS-CoV-2 omicron variant on those with educational debt, give those borrowers more time to plan for resumed payments, and reduce delinquency and defaults when payments resume.

“The Department will continue its work to transition borrowers smoothly back into repayment, including by improving student loan servicing,” the announcement states.

AVMA leaders have indicated educational debt is a top concern for the veterinary profession. In July 2021, the AVMA sent a letter to Department of Education officials advocating that the department be responsive to the needs of veterinarians and veterinary students who are grappling with educational debt.

The letter notes that the estimated cost of a four-year veterinary degree in the U.S. ranges from $160,000-$290,000.

Responses to the 2020 AVMA Senior Survey indicate graduating seniors at veterinary colleges had a mean of almost $160,000 in debt, and AVMA economists described those and other findings in an article for the May 15, 2021, issue of JAVMA. Among respondents entering private practice, the article indicates the mean starting salary was about $93,000. Compensation was lower for most respondents entering public practice.

In the July letter to the DOE, AVMA leaders also called for protection of the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program and resistance to calls to cap the amounts forgiven, a federal refinancing option, an automatic pause in student loan repayments and interest accumulation while veterinarians pursue advanced education and training, and other changes that could reduce the debt burden for veterinarians.