Supreme Court’s conservative majority sparks concern for loan forgiveness supporters

02/28/2023 By Meghan O’Brien

The Supreme Court justices continue to debate over the implementation of President Joe Biden’s student loan forgiveness plan. This plan, announced in August 2022, has been projected to cost nearly $400 billion in the span of 30 years. In order to follow up with a promise he made during his presidential campaign, Biden announced to forgive $10,000 for each student with income under $125,000 per year or who lives in a household that makes under $250,000. Pell Grant recipients who can prove financial need will also be given an additional $10,000.

Photo courtesy of MGN

According to the White House, nearly 26 million people have applied for qualification, and 16 million have already received approval. Due to the sheer cost of this plan, two challenges regarding Biden’s initiative have been brought to the Supreme Court. One issue was led by six states with a Republican majority, while the other was presented through a lawsuit.

Many Republicans believe Biden overstepped his executive power with his forgiveness plan. For instance, U.S. District Judge Mark Pittman stated that the administration failed to receive approval from Congress prior to the plan’s announcement. It is now up to the Supreme Court to decide whether Biden has the power to implement the program. 

With a 6-3 conservative majority, many supporters of student debt relief have questioned whether Biden’s plan will survive the ruling of the Supreme Court. According to a debate held on Tuesday, many conservative justices, led by Chief Justice John Roberts, believed Biden used an “old law” to surpass the approval of Congress and accelerate the implementation of the program. Justice Brett Kavanaugh, in particular, was strongly against the plan and stated that Biden’s methods “seem problematic.”

In contrast to the Supreme Court’s overruling of Roe v. Wade, their disapproval of vaccine requirements and other mandates backed by Biden, many people are not confident his plan will pass. That being said, the student debt relief plan has been advertised to help the United States return to a pre-pandemic economy, an issue that Democrats and Republicans have been previously able to find common ground on. A decision from the Supreme Court is expected in the early summer.