On Friday, the Trump administration announced that it may temporarily suspend student loan payments in order to ease the economic impact of the coronavirus outbreak. As Politico reports, Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin spoke with reporters about an upcoming plan to boost the volatile economy.
A reporter from CNBC asked Mnuchin about the possibility of suspending student loan payments for three months.
"That's on our list of 50 different items we're bringing to the president for a decision," he replied. "That'll be something we're looking at."
Student loans are something on the minds of policymakers as the economy has taken a hit since COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus, has started spreading within the United States.
In a statement, Education Department spokesperson Liz Hill said that Secretary Betsy DeVos, "is proud to work with the President in taking decisive action to help students and parents during this national emergency," Politico reports
Senate Democrats also attempted to tackle student loans in an economic package concept that they created earlier this week. In it, they listed federal student loan payments on the list of things they'd like to see addressed.
Mnuchin was light on specifics during the press conference, and it wasn't clear if the plan would require Congressional cooperation or if Trump would use the power of his office to explore economic relief.
Right now, the federal government holds a $1.5 trillion portfolio in outstanding student debt, owed by over 40 million Americans. Borrowers can defer payments if they encounter economic hardship, however, interest can still add up during the deferment period. It wasn't clear if Trump's package would pause interest.
The Trump administration has been scrambling to calm markets and stimulate the economy to prevent a downturn even as the virus stokes fears around the country. The stock market experienced its worse drop in over 30 years on Thursday, though the market rallied somewhat on Friday.
Meanwhile, many schools across the country have halted classes or moved online. Business earnings are also threatened after many businesses - Disneyland, sports franchises, and Broadway productions - have been temporarily halted to prevent the gathering of large crowds.Trump gave a speech on Wednesday aimed at easing fears over the virus' economic impact. The address was met with confusion and concern after the president announced that all travel from Europe would be banned for 30 days. It was later clarified that the ban wouldn't apply to American citizens, legal residents or their immediate family.
The president also initially said that trade would be halted as part of the restriction, though that was later clarified to be inaccurate as well.