Saturday, December 2, 2023

Biden Seeks Different Remedy for Student Loans


Following the Supreme Court’s decision Friday to end President Joe Biden’s student loan forgiveness program, the president said he’d try again to ease the repayment burden that straps millions of college grads in the US, The New York Times reports.

The initial strategy involved using disaster relief funds from the pandemic, but the Court ruled that doing it that way overstepped the executive’s authority. Under the HEROES Act, the law invoked by the Biden administration to cancel hundreds of billions of dollars of student debt, the administration is allowed to “modify” programs. This word usually refers to adjustments or incremental changes. “The modifications … here create a novel and fundamentally different loan forgiveness program,” the majority wrote. “It is highly unlikely that Congress authorized such a sweeping loan cancellation program through such a subtle device as permission to modify.”

The president expressed disappointment in the ruling, but many policy experts, including Democrats, had their doubts that the loan forgiveness program would withstand constitutional challenges. He plans instead to use the Higher Education Act, which grants the secretary of education the authority to “compromise, waive, or release any right, title, claim, lien, or demand, however acquired, including any equity or any right of redemption.”

Until a working strategy can be used, college grads who have amassed debt through student loans are back on the hook for repayment. But there’s hope and a plan: A letter by Harvard Law School’s Legal Services Center, commissioned by Senator Elizabeth Warren, Democrat of Massachusetts, explains how the Higher Education Act could be used to cancel student debt.

Paul Katula
Paul Katula is the executive editor of the Voxitatis Research Foundation, which publishes this blog. For more information, see the About page.


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