President Joe Biden extended the federal moratorium on student loans until May 1. The extension comes as the COVID-19 pandemic persists, making it harder for the 43 million borrowers to make their payments on time.

“We know that millions of student loan borrowers are still coping with the impacts of the pandemic and need some more time before resuming payments. Given these considerations, today my administration is extending the pause on federal student loan repayments for an additional 90 days — through May 1, 2022,” Biden said.

The moratorium began in March 2020 under former President Donald Trump and has been extended by both administrations. Biden’s decision comes amid growing pressure from fellow Democrats. The U.S. holds a record $1.7 trillion in student debt.

"The Omicron variant is a scary reminder that the pandemic is still a serious concern and Americans cannot be crushed by student debt as they shoulder this health and economic crisis," said Natalia Abrams, president of the Student Debt Crisis Center.

The Omicron variant makes up 73% of coronavirus cases in the U.S.

The debt crisis carries a massive racial gap with Black students owing an average of $7,400 more a year in loans, which adds up to $25,000 more than the average white student over a four-year period, according to the Brookings Institution.

One of Biden’s biggest campaign promises was to eliminate $10,000 in debt for all student loan borrowers, but he has yet to act. Biden has the authority to eliminate all student debt under the Higher Education Act of 1965.

Biden had been urged by Sens. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., as well as Rep. Ayanna Pressly, D-Mass., to fulfill his promise.

“Extending the pause will help millions of Americans make ends meet, especially as we overcome the Omicron variant. We continue to call on President Biden to take executive action to cancel $50,000 in student debt, which will help close the racial wealth gap for borrowers and accelerate our economic recovery,” the trio of lawmakers said in a statement.

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., has also urged Biden to act on the student debt crisis.

"Biden needs to lean on his executive authority now. He has been delaying and underutilizing it so far," Ocasio-Cortez wrote on Twitter. "There is an enormous amount he can do on climate, student debt, immigration, cannabis, healthcare and more."