U.S. to extend student-loan payment pause during Supreme Court challenge

WASHINGTON, Nov 22 (Reuters) - Americans with student loan debt may get a reprieve from payments through August under a plan announced on Tuesday by President Joe Biden, who said the timeline would give the Supreme Court a chance to hear a challenge to his policy.

The Biden administration on Friday asked the Supreme Court to lift a lower court's order blocking his plan to cancel billions of dollars in student debt in a challenge brought by six Republican-led states.

Biden said on Twitter the pause in student debt repayments would be extended while the case is pending, potentially until June 30. The U.S. Education Department announced payments would resume 60 days after, which could be until late August.

In a policy benefiting millions of Americans, Biden announced in August that the U.S. government would forgive up to $10,000 in student loan debt for borrowers making less than $125,000 a year, or $250,000 for married couples.

U.S. President Joe Biden boards Air Force One to depart Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point, North Carolina, U.S. November 21, 2022. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

"I'm confident that our student debt relief plan is legal. But it’s on hold because Republican officials want to block it," the U.S. president said on Tuesday.

The Congressional Budget Office in September calculated that the debt forgiveness would cost the government about $400 billion. Republicans have raised concerns that the plan would be inflationary.

The policy fulfilled a promise that the Democratic president made during the 2020 presidential campaign to help debt-saddled former college students.

Separately, the government is contesting another ruling by a federal judge in Fort Worth, Texas, that also threatens the debt-relief program. U.S. Judge Mark Pittman on Nov. 10 found the program unlawful.

The administration stopped taking applications for student debt relief after Pittman's decision.

Reporting by Kanishka Singh in Washington; Editing by Caitlin Webber, Tim Ahmann and Cynthia Osterman

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