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The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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Student Loan Relief Overruled

Photo by Graphic via Creative Commons/Nick Youngson

Millions of borrowers are back on the hook for student loans. How did we get here?

On June 30, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled 6-3 to strike down President Joe Biden’s federal loan forgiveness program, putting about 20 million people back on the hook for repaying up to $20,000 in student loans.

On August 23, 2022, Assistant Attorney General for the Office of Legal Counsel Christopher Schroeder opined that loan cancellation via executive order was legally possible under the Higher Education Relief Opportunities For Students Act, which authorizes the federal government to grant educational financial relief in response to “war or other military operation or national emergency.” Biden’s administration later issued up to $20,000 of debt relief under the justification of economic relief for the COVID-19 pandemic.

On September 29, 2022, the states of Nebraska, Missouri, Arkansas, Iowa, Kansas and South Carolina brought legal action in a federal court against Biden, claiming that the loan cancellation program was unconstitutional, overstepping the executive branch’s power. While initially dismissed, the case was appealed and eventually argued before the Supreme Court.

In the majority opinion, Chief Justice John Roberts wrote “the Court [concludes] that ‘[t]he basic and consequential tradeoffs’ inherent in a mass debt cancellation program ‘are ones that Congress would likely have intended for itself.’ … the Court has required the Secretary [of Education] to ‘point to ‘clear congressional authorization’’ to justify the challenged program.” 

The court’s opinion officially struck down federal student loan cancellation unless Congress at a later point approves such a program. In response, Biden said via an official statement the termination of his financial relief program was unjust.

“The average amount forgiven in the PPP — the pandemic loan program — average amount forgiven was $70,000,” Biden said. “Now, a kid making 60,000 bucks, trying to pay back his bills, asking for $10,000 in relief — come on. The hypocrisy is stunning.”

In contrast, Pete Sessions, the congressional representative for the area of Texas including Texas A&M, endorsed the decision in a Tweet.

“I applaud the Supreme Court’s ruling against President Biden’s unconstitutional student loan forgiveness program,” Sessions wrote. “The ruling is a victory for our constitution, and a reaffirmation of our commitment to the rule of law … such reform cannot be implemented by unilateral executive action.”

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