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Millions of Texans still on the hook for student loans after Supreme Court decision

 
President Joe Biden (left) speaks about student loan debt forgiveness at the White House on Aug. 24 with Education Secretary Miguel Cardona.
Evan Vucci/AP
President Joe Biden (left) speaks about student loan debt forgiveness at the White House on Aug. 24 with Education Secretary Miguel Cardona.

The U.S. Supreme Court on Friday shot down President Biden’s attempt to provide millions of borrowers with student-loan debt relief.

The 6-to-3 decision comes after the administration in August sought to provide up to $10,000 in loan relief to borrowers who make $125,000 or less annually, or up to $20,000 for Pell Grant recipients.

The benefit would have affected more than 3.3 million Texas borrowers who were eligible for the loan relief, and 2.3 million who received Pell Grants, according to a White House fact sheet.

The Biden administration argued that under the Higher Education Relief Opportunities for Students, or HEROES, Act of 2003, the administration had the authority to cancel the debt. That’s because the act “authorizes the Secretary to “waive or modify any statutory or regulatory provision” applicable to the federal student loan program.

But a majority of the justices said instead that the U.S. Secretary of Education doesn’t have the authority to rewrite the statute.

“The Secretary asserts that the HEROES Act grants him the authority to cancel $430 billion of student loan principal. It does not,” the opinion states. “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.”

The initiative would have cost about $400 billion, leading several Republicans to decry the burden the cancelation would have placed on taxpayers, including those who never attended college.

In late 2022, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott joined nearly two dozen Republican governors in sending a letter to the Biden administration admonishing the president for the effort, arguing that the debt cancelation will ”force American taxpayers to pay off the student loan debt of an elite few.”

This story will be updated.
Copyright 2023 KERA. To see more, visit KERA.

Julián Aguilar
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