Education Secretary Betsy DeVos announced on Friday evening that the U.S. government would extend federal forbearance on student loans to borrowers by one month as more businesses close due to an increase in cases of coronavirus. This means that federal student loan payments will not be due in January.
The move has no impact on private student loans, which were typically still repaid by Americans during the pandemic.
As the federal student loan forbearance is set to end on Jan.31, President-elect Joe Biden has discussed taking more permanent steps to reduce the burden of student loans for millions of Americans.
Federal student loans were forborne in March. In August, President Donald Trump ordered DeVos to extend the abstention until the end of 2020.
While those who wanted to keep paying off their student loans were able to continue to do so, automatic federal student loan payments came to a halt at the start of the pandemic as unemployment levels hit record highs.
During the forbearance period, the federal government did not charge interest on borrowers.
“The coronavirus pandemic has presented challenges for many students and borrowers, and this temporary pause in payments will help those who have been affected,” DeVos said. “The overtime also allows Congress to do its job and determine what action it deems necessary and appropriate. Congress, not the executive branch, is in charge of student loan policy.”