Washington (US), April 7: U.S. President Joe Biden announced on Wednesday that his administration is extending a pause on federal student loan repayments through August 31, 2022.
In a statement, Biden said "millions of student loan borrowers would face significant economic hardship" if loan payments were to resume on schedule in May.
He also asked student loan borrowers to prepare for a return to repayment, look into loan forgiveness programs, and explore other options to lower their payments.
Republicans were critical of Biden's decision, with U.S. Senator Tom Cotton calling the moratorium "an insult to every American who responsibly paid debts."
"There's no free lunch: this reckless move puts taxpayers on the hook for billions," the Arkansas Republican tweeted on Tuesday.
The freeze was set to lapse on May 1 per an extension signed by Biden in December.
Loan payments were first put on hold in March 2020 under then U.S. President Donald Trump and have since been extended five times.
During the 2020 campaign, Biden said he would support the cancellation of at least 10,000 U.S. dollars in federal student loans per person.
Six-in-10 likely voters support extending Biden's pause on student loan payments, according to a poll released in February.
Similarly, nearly two-thirds of likely voters support government action to cancel some or all student loan debt for all borrowers, the poll also showed.