The timeline on President Joe Biden’s student debt relief plan has been thrown way off by several court challenges across the country. If everything had gone according to plan, loan repayments would have started back up next month, and eligible borrowers would have seen at least a portion of their debt wiped out. But, it’s not going according to plan for the Biden administration.
Whether the administration’s student debt relief plan is lawful will be decided by the Supreme Court, but there may not be an answer by January, when repayments had been set to resume. To Biden, it’s not fair that students eligible for his plan should have to continue paying their loans while they wait for the Supreme Court’s decision. That’s why, for presumably the last time, the pause on student loan repayments has again been extended to June 30, 2023.
In a video posted to social media, Biden gave an update on the plan. “As Americans continue to recover from the pandemic, my administration’s been working to provide student debt relief to millions of working and middle-class families across the country,” Biden said. “But, Republican special interest and elected officials sued to deny this relief, even to their own constituents.”
He said he’s confident the plan is legal, despite the snags in court from several lawsuits. “We’re not going to back down, though, on our fight to give families breathing room,” he said. “That’s why the Department of Justice is asking the Supreme Court of the United States to rule on the case. But it isn’t fair to ask tens of millions of borrowers eligible for relief to resume their student debt payments while the courts consider the lawsuit.”
“We’re not going to back down though on our fight to give families breathing room.” – President Joe Biden
Because of this, Biden’s secretary of education, Miguel Cardona, extended the pause on repayments to “no later than June 30, 2023,” according to the president. Whatever the Supreme Court decides, borrowers would be back to paying for their loans 60 days after the June 2023 deadline.
If Biden gets his way, households making up to $250,000 and individuals making up to $125,000 would be eligible for up to $10,000 in debt relief. Eligible borrowers who got Pell grants could get as much as $20,000 in relief.
One of the main legal points of contention on Biden’s plan is whether something called the HEROES act gave the administration authority to launch it without going through Congress. This law, passed after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, gives the government some special powers during national emergencies. That includes “sweeping authority” to cancel or reduce student loan debt. The COVID-19 pandemic, the administration argues, is a national emergency that gives it this authority.
The Supreme Court will decide if the Biden Administration’s interpretation of the law is correct.
In the meantime though, some Texas lawmakers are filing bills that call for student debt relief for some and more transparency when it comes to tuition and fees at colleges and universities.
Rep. Stephanie Klick, a Fort Worth Republican, filed House Bill 104, which would make some Texas nurses eligible for student loan repayment assistance. Borrowers would have to be an advanced practice registered nurse, a registered nurse or a licensed vocational nurse working at a licensed facility full-time for at least a year. If applicants are approved, they could get as much as $5,000 in assistance for up to five years. However, the bill would not offer assistance toward student loan debts that are in default when applying for relief.
Rep. Briscoe Cain, a Harris County Republican, filed House Bill 547, which would require college and universities to provide students with an itemized bill for all tuition and fees for each course a student is enrolled in every semester.
Sen. Judith Zaffirini, a Democrat from Laredo, filed Senate Bill 34, which aims to help eligible students pay for their tuition. Students must be enrolled in an associate, baccalaureate or certificate program, and their household income must be less than $150,000.