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WASHINGTON: US President Joe Biden announced Wednesday a four-month extension of a moratorium on federal student loan payments, a move that will affect more than 40 million Americans.

“We are still recovering from the pandemic and the unprecedented economic disruption it caused,” Biden said in a statement.

Requiring millions of Americans to resume repaying student loans – which often total tens of thousands of dollars – would induce “significant economic hardship” and “threaten Americans’ financial stability,” the statement said.

The repayments were previously scheduled to start again May 1, after Biden had originally paused collection on the debts after his inauguration last year.

The new schedule would see the first new payments instead come due August 31.

The delay was praised by an influential group of congressional Democrats, who nevertheless urged Biden to outright cancel much of Americans’ student debt entirely.

“We continue to implore the President to use his clear legal authority to cancel student debt, which will help narrow the racial wealth gap, boost our economic recovery, and demonstrate that this government is fighting for the people,” the group said in a statement Wednesday.

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