Dec. 4 (UPI) -- The Education Department on Friday extended federal student loan relief through Jan. 31, offering an additional month of forbearance in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Education Secretary Betsy DeVos said the extension will suspend all collections activities and interest accrual through the end of January, one month after it was set to expire.
"The coronavirus pandemic has presented challenges for many students and borrowers, and this temporary pause in payments will help those who have been impacted," she said. "The added time also allows Congress to do its job and determine what measures it believes are necessary and appropriate. The Congress, not the executive branch, is in charge of student loan policy."
The Department of Education first implemented the forbearance in March as states began shutting down non-essential services and businesses, leading to widespread unemployment and loss of income across the country.
DeVos said that though the measure will automatically stop the collections process, those who owe student loans are still able to make payments. Since interest isn't currently accruing, all funds will go entirely toward the principal balance of the loans.