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President Trump on Friday announced that the administration would allow federal student loan borrowers to suspend their payments without penalty for at least 60 days, and that standardized test requirements would not be enforced for elementary and high school students amid the coronavirus pandemic.
The president announced earlier this week that he had waived interest on federal student loans “until further notice,” but took that measure to the next level Friday by suspending payments.
“We’ve temporarily waived all interest on federally held student loans,” Trump said during a Coronavirus Task Force press conference Friday at the White House. “They’ll be very happy to hear that and I’ve instructed them to take that action immediately.”
“Today, Betsy Devos directed federal lenders to allow borrowers to suspend their student loans and loan payments without penalty for at least the next 60 days, and if we need more we’ll extend that period of time,” Trump said.
“Borrowers should contact their lenders, but we’ve given them very strong instructions,” Trump added. “That’s a big thing, that’s going to make a lot of students very happy.”
Trump also announced Friday that there will be no enforcement of scheduled standardized testing for high school and elementary school-aged students.
“There will be no standardized testing,” Trump said. “A lot of students will be happy. Some, probably not.”
The president’s announcement on student loans comes after Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., and other top Senate Democrats rolled out legislation that would cancel student loan payments for the duration of the coronavirus national emergency.
That plan would provide relief to federal student loan borrowers through an “immediate cancellation” of monthly student loan payments during the national emergency, and would “pay down a minimum of $10K for all federal student loan borrowers.” The plan would also require Congress to authorize the Department of Education to make monthly student loan payments on behalf of borrowers, and would “guarantee” the minimum of $10,000 payoff for all borrowers.
The suspension of payments would be considered a new policy, separate from the deferment and forbearance options that currently exist for borrowers. The plan would also make all payments made by the Department of Education “tax-free” for borrowers.
It is unclear, at this point, if Schumer’s legislation will be folded into the massive stimulus plan currently under negotiation on Capitol Hill.
Meanwhile, amid the COVID-19 pandemic, the president also announced Friday that he had postponed the tax filing day from April 15 to July 15.
As of Friday morning, the U.S. had more than 14,250 confirmed cases of coronavirus in all 50 states, including Washington, D.C. The U.S., so far, has seen 205 COVID-19-related deaths.