Supreme Court to Decide Fate of Biden’s Student Loan Forgiveness Plan
The fate of President Joe Biden’s sweeping plan to cancel up to $20,000 in federal student loan debt for some 40 million eligible borrowers rests in the hands of the Supreme Court. On Tuesday, Feb. 28, the highest court in the land will hear arguments in two key lawsuits that have put a halt to the one-time student debt relief program.
The legal issues stem from the U.S. Department of Education’s announcement in November, which extended the payment pause on federal student loans until the litigation over its student loan forgiveness plan resolves. Payments will not resume until 60 days after the June 30 deadline if the program is not implemented. If the administration is permitted to follow through on its student debt forgiveness plan, payments will resume two months after the court makes its ruling.
The loan repayment pause has been in effect since March 2020, and advocates, legal experts, and Democratic lawmakers have voiced support for the administration's use of the HEROES Act of 2003 to cancel debt. The law gives the education secretary the flexibility to make temporary changes to the federal student loan system in the case of a national emergency.
However, conservative groups have flooded the Supreme Court docket to oppose the relief, and some Republican lawmakers have introduced legislation to block the president from canceling any student debt in connection with a national emergency.
As the Supreme Court prepares to hear oral arguments, a coalition of advocacy organizations will host a People’s Rally for Student Debt Cancellation in front of the court, co-sponsored by the Center for Responsible Lending, the Debt Collective, the Student Borrower Protection Center, the NAACP, MoveOn, the National Consumer Law Center, and the National Education Association.
Additionally, student loan borrowers who don’t qualify for federal debt relief may be able to refinance their loans with a private lender to lower their interest rates and monthly payments.
The White House has estimated that more than 40 million borrowers would qualify for the debt relief program, with nearly 90% of the benefits of the relief going to borrowers earning less than $75,000 per year. Likewise, over 16 million student loan borrowers have already been approved for forgiveness, with another estimated 2.9 million student loan borrowers potentially qualifying in the six Republican-led states that are challenging the program.
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