Student Loan Forgiveness – Supreme Court Blocks Biden’s Student Loan Forgiveness Plan

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The U.S Supreme Court handed President Joe Biden a painful defeat on Friday, blocking his plan to cancel $430 billion in student loan debt – a move that had been intended to benefit up to 43 million Americans and fulfill a campaign promise. The 6-3 decision, powered by the court’s conservative justices and written by Chief Justice John Roberts, struck down the administration’s push as overstepping the bounds of executive authority and usurping Congress’ control over federal spending. Its rejection dealt a blow to the 26 million American borrowers who applied for relief under the program and represented a political setback for the Democratic president.

The court ruled in favor of six Republican-led states that challenged the Biden plan, ruling that it needed Congress’ endorsement before taking such costly action and rejecting arguments that a 2003 law gave Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona broad authority to “waive or modify” student loan terms. The high court also ruled that two individual borrowers who challenged the program lacked standing to sue, citing their inability to prove they’d been harmed by it.

While it’s common for Supreme Court cases to hang on legal technicalities, borrowers like Niara Thompson say they were left isolated and demoralized after hearing hours of argument about the precise definitions of words such as “waive” and “modify.” She says her debt has been deeply personal to her and that the day she found out the Biden administration was considering her application for loan forgiveness brought some hope. However, now that the pause on loan interest and payments has ended, she’s again worrying about budgeting for them.

In the wake of the court’s decision, the White House vowed to take new steps to provide relief for student loan borrowers using a different approach. The administration is expected to announce more details on Tuesday. The justices responded to an appeal from the Republican-led states of Kansas, Nebraska, Idaho, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Mississippi. They argued that the administration had overstepped its authority in implementing the program by circumventing routine rule-making procedures and using appropriations to forgive loans rather than cancel them.

Despite the setback, the administration remains committed to having all outstanding student loan balances forgiven for borrowers who work in public service fields, such as doctors, nurses, and teachers. Biden has defended the policy as an essential part of his vision to give every child in America an equal shot at an excellent education.

Top Democrats criticized the court’s ruling and demanded that Biden push forward with more options to help borrowers. At the same time, Republicans lauded the decision as striking down what they view as executive overreach. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer called the decision “disappointing and cruel” and urged Biden to explore more ways to provide relief for students. The administration’s upcoming proposal will likely be based on legislation that has already been introduced in both chambers of Congress and supported by many Republicans as well as liberal advocacy groups.

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