COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) – Legal battles around a plan to forgive thousands in student loan debt for most borrowers have left its fate murky, but there is some forecast of what could happen next.
President Joe Biden announced his student loan forgiveness program back in August, but it officially launched via a website on Oct. 17 for anyone to apply on. His plan aims to forgive up to $20,000 for federal Pell Grant recipients, and $10,000 for anyone without Pell Grants. So far, tens of millions have applied for the relief.
Before reaching that launch date, however, a lawsuit came forward from six Republican attorneys general. They contended that the president’s plan was illegal because Congress, which holds the power of the purse, did not approve it.
A federal judge dismissed that lawsuit on Oct. 20, but the legal challenge resurfaced shortly after as a separate federal court temporarily blocked Biden’s plan. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 8th Circuit said the lawsuit should play out before the student loan forgiveness goes out. A decision could come as soon as this week.
“I was getting my application in there, in early just in case,” said Ohio State University student Joseph Crump. “So that maybe if there is ever a pause, getting it in early and being proactive, I could get some relief. But I’m definitely nervous about what could happen.”
The legal battle over the student debt forgiveness program is in the courts and out of the hands of the average loan relief hopeful. However, White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre offered them some guidance. Jean-Pierre told Nexstar’s The Hill that people should continue to apply for Biden’s program, while the lawsuit runs its course. Still, a message on the application website indicates what will happen when they do.
Application is open, but debt discharge is paused. As a result of a court order, we are temporarily blocked from processing debt discharges. We encourage you to apply if you are eligible. We will continue to review applications. We will quickly process discharges when we are able to do so and you will not need to reapply.”U.S. Department of Education’s Federal Student Aid Office
People have until the end of the year to apply, although the Biden administration is pushing a Nov. 15 deadline so they can reduce what they owe by the time the national pause on loan payments ends at the end of 2022.
“I think he’s (Biden) doing the best he can with what he has to help students like me,” says Nate Asamoah, an OSU biology student. “So that I can have a debt-free life where I’m not constrained.”