A MARTINEZ, HOST:
Federal student loan borrowers got some good news this week. President Biden announced on Wednesday that he was extending the freeze on their loan payments until May of next year. It's a continuation of pandemic relief that began in March 2020. NPR's Elissa Nadworny has more.
ELISSA NADWORNY, BYLINE: After several extensions, the pause on federal student loan payments was finally set to end on January 31. But as that deadline got closer, the omicron coronavirus variant began spiking across the country. Yesterday, President Biden extended the pause again, this time until May 1.
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PRESIDENT JOE BIDEN: Folks, our economic recovery is the strongest in the world. But I know that because of the pandemic, many borrowers need more time to resume payments.
NADWORNY: According to the Education Department, the pause has saved borrowers $5 billion a month since the beginning of the pandemic. Interest has been set to 0%, and collections were stopped for borrowers in default.
MIKE PIERCE: This is an enormous relief.
NADWORNY: Mike Pierce is the executive director of the Student Borrower Protection Center, an organization that's been urging the president to extend student loan relief.
PIERCE: Nothing about the trajectory of the pandemic and of omicron suggests that things are immediately better in a way that makes us comfortable sending people student loan bills.
NADWORNY: I shared the news with Brooke Jensen, who has about $30,000 in federal student loans from her time at New York University.
BROOKE JENSEN: Oh, wow, I wish I had this news yesterday because I just accepted working over the holidays for an extra $500 so I could pay my student loan first payment.
NADWORNY: She wasn't sure how she'd be able to make the loan payments that followed, which are about $500 a month. So yesterday's news came as a relief.
JENSEN: I mean, there's plenty of other things to be stressed out about in the world right now, but student loan repayments, it'll be nice not to be stressed out about that.
NADWORNY: She works in the film industry, and she's planning on asking for a raise. She hopes that by the time her payments do resume, she'll be in a better place financially.
Elissa Nadworny, NPR News.
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