February 23, 2023
WASHINGTON, Feb 23 (Reuters) – Shanna Hayes in 2007 became the first member of her immediate family to attend college. She did not realize she was setting off on a path toward another, less-welcome family first – racking up more than $150,000 in student debt.
“At no point did I actually have that conversation,” Hayes said, referring to her lack of financial planning before enrolling at New England College in New Hampshire. “And to be honest, I didn’t ask.”
The finances of Hayes and millions of other Americans are in the hands of the U.S. Supreme Court as it hears arguments next Tuesday in appeals by President Joe Biden’s administration of lower court rulings blocking his plan announced last August to cancel $430 billion in student debt.
Legal experts said Biden’s program, intended to ease the financial burden on debt-saddled college-educated Americans like Hayes but criticized by Republicans as an overreach of his authority, may be scrutinized by the court under the so-called major questions doctrine. Its 6-3 conservative majority has employed this muscular judicial approach to invalidate major Biden policies deemed lacking clear congressional authorization.
Hayes, 34, said she plans to join a rally outside the court on Tuesday supporting Biden’s plan. The Alexandria, Virginia resident earned an undergraduate degree in mathematics and taught high school math before obtaining graduate degrees in higher education administration and sports management at Southern New Hampshire University, where she went on to work in various roles supporting students. She is now seeking a job promoting higher education access and equity.