Liberal activist groups are already discussing ways President Joe Biden can get around the Supreme Court’s Friday ruling that blocked the administration’s plan to grant student loan forgiveness to nearly 40 million Americans.
In a 6-3 vote, the Supreme Court ruled that the Biden administration cannot use executive power to cancel up to $10,000 in student loan debt for non-Pell Grant recipients and up to $20,000 for Pell Grant recipients. More Perfect Union, a social welfare organization, is assuring those who applied for forgiveness that there is another law Biden can use to cancel student loan debt in order to curb the Supreme Court’s decision.
“So the administration’s hands are absolutely not tied in this circumstance,” Persis Yu, a lawyer at the Student Borrower Protection Center, told More Perfect Union. “There are many tools that the [Education] Secretary can use. In particular, the Secretary already has the authority and the President can direct the Secretary to use that authority to cancel student loans under the Higher Education Act, under the provisions which allow them to settle, compromise, modify and waiver any of the debts in their portfolio.”
In August 2022, the Department of Education announced its plan to forgive $10,000 worth of student loans for those making less than $125,000 per year as well as $20,000 for Pell Grant recipients. A federal court of appeals halted the student loan forgiveness program in October and in November, Texas U.S. District Judge Mark Pittman decided that the program was illegal because borrowers were unable to comment on the plan before it was launched.
Despite the pending litigation, the DOE began to notify applicants that they were eligible to receive relief and that their loans would be wiped after “[prevailing] in court.”
The National Education Association (NEA), the nation’s largest teachers union, said in a Friday tweet that “student loan relief is still possible, especially for educators.” The union’s guide notes that teachers can still be eligible for student loan forgiveness under the Public Service Loan Forgiveness act, and the NEA will provide educators a free student debt advisor.
The Debt Collective, a non-profit organization, is organizing a “debtors union response call” to detail how the group will take action against the Supreme Court’s ruling.
“After a quick reading of the Supreme Court’s language, it is clear that the Biden administration still has legal tools at his disposal to broadly cancel student debt,” the Debt Collective said in a tweet. “We need immediate action from the Biden administration.”
The Supreme Court’s Friday decision involved two cases, Biden v. Nebraska and Department of Education v. Brown, that argued that the Secretary of Education did not have the emergency authority to cancel student loan debt.
“This baseless decision creates disastrous new legal precedents while striking down a completely legal policy that millions of people have their future planned around,” More Perfect Union said in its video. “But this doesn’t have to be the end of the story. Regardless of the ruling, the law is clear: President Biden still has the legal authority to cancel student debt. He must do so right away.”
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