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Courtney Introduces New COVID-19 Student Loan Relief Effort at the Outset of 117th Congress

January 21, 2021
Press Release

WASHINGTON, DC—Today, Congressman Joe Courtney (CT-02), a senior member of the House Education and Labor Committee, introduced new legislation to provide relief to hundreds of thousands of American student loan borrowers during the coronavirus pandemic. Rep. Courtney’s COVID-19 Student Loan Relief Extension Act would not only extend the COVID-19 student loan forbearance relief that was set to expire at the end of this month on January 31st, but would also expand coverage to student loan borrowers who were excluded from support by the previous administration, and would provide them with retroactive relief.

Courtney’s new bill would extend existing student loan payment protection until 30 days after the end of the declared Public Health Emergency, and the no-interest accrual until the economy shows initial signs of recovery. It would also retroactively extend these benefits to previously excluded borrowers. There are approximately 8 million borrowers with commercially held FFEL and Perkins loans alone who were excluded from relief by the previous administration and from yesterday’s new order by President Biden. Only Congress has the authority to pause principal and interest payments for those two federal loan programs.

“The freeze on student loan payments and interest has given thousands of Americans a boost over the past ten months, and President Biden wasted no time yesterday in taking the important first step to extend pause to September 30th,” said Courtney. “Congress has a lot of important work on the horizon, but job number one is overcoming this pandemic and helping American workers and families build back as strong as possible. The COVID-19 Student Loan Relief Extension Act would do just that. Our new bill would extend the pause on student loan payments that has helped free up finances for thousands of Americans during this crisis, and it would extend relief to the more than eight million American student-loan borrowers who were denied support by the previous administration. This is a straightforward bill that would benefit working families in every Congressional district in the country, and it’s urgently needed to help Americans through this economic crisis.”

Yesterday, Rep. Courtney welcomed the signing of an executive order by President Joe Biden to extend the current pause on interest and principal payments on student loans to September 30th, 2021, as a straightforward and critical first step to assist American student-borrowers. Courtney noted that Congress would need to work together to help lift the burden of student loan debt for the long-term, and the COVID-19 Student Loan Relief Extension Act would help accomplish it.