By Esme Murphy

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Last week, President Joe Biden paused student loan repayments for the third time — this time until Aug. 31.

Borrowers have not had to make payments on those loans for two years.

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Student debt is crushing not only students but their families, with many young borrowers taking 20 years to pay off their loans.

The numbers are staggering. Forty-three million borrowers have $1.6 trillion worth of student loan debt. The average payment is $460 a month.

In Minnesota alone, 750,000 people have federal student loan debt, with loans averaging $35,000.

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Progressives in Congress met with Biden recently to push federal student loan forgiveness. Among them was Congresswoman Ilhan Omar. She was a guest on WCCO Sunday Morning.

“But we can’t continue to pause it, right? We have to come up with some sort of relief, and I think the president is committed into exploring an amount that could be, that he could be satisfied with in canceling,” she said. “So I walked away from that meeting being hopeful that some action will be taken soon.”

Some members of Congress want any forgiveness plan linked to income so only the lowest income earners would be forgiven. Most Republicans are against any forgiveness, arguing it will have a devastating effect on the economy. They believe it would push inflation even higher.

Biden says he is thinking about a forgiveness plan and that it is an option “that’s on the table.” Look for continued debate on this with that Aug. 31 deadline looming. That is when millions will have to start paying back their loans again.

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You can watch WCCO Sunday Morning every Sunday at 6, 7 and 10:30 a.m.

Esme Murphy