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Supreme Court Blocks Biden’s Debt-Relief Plan

Supreme Court Blocks Biden’s Debt-Relief Plan

Inside Higher Ed

Katherine Knott
June 30, 2023
President Biden does not have the authority to forgive student loans, the Supreme Court said in a 6-to-3 decision that dooms the administration’s debt-relief plans.
The court’s conservative justices sided with six Republican attorneys general who argued that the administration didn’t have the authority to forgive federal student loans under a 2003 law. The attorneys from six states—Arkansas, Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska and South Carolina—alleged that the plan would harm state revenues and agencies that hold student loans.
Chief Justice John Roberts Jr., writing for the majority, said that the administration’s plan to forgive up to $20,000 in student loans for eligible Americans went beyond the waivers and modifications authorized under the Higher Education Relief Opportunities for Students (HEROES) Act of 2003. The law allows the Education Department to waive or modify parts of the student loan program so that borrowers affected by war, military operation or national emergency—such as the coronavirus pandemic—don’t end up in a worse position financially.
“The secretary asserts that the HEROES Act grants him the authority to cancel $430 billion of student loan principal,” Roberts wrote. “It does not. We hold today that the act allows the Secretary to ‘waive or modify’ existing statutory or regulatory provisions applicable to financial assistance programs under the Education Act, not to rewrite that statute from the ground up.”
Roberts said the debt-relief plan created a “novel and fundamentally different loan forgiveness program,” in violation of the statute.
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