Today, the Supreme Court struck down President Biden’s plan to provide relief to millions of low-income Americans who are struggling with student loan debt. Borrowers were counting on debt relief to manage their payments when bills resume in September for the first time in three years.
What did the Supreme Court decide?
By a vote of 6-3, a majority of the Supreme Court decided that the states challenging student debt relief have the right to bring their lawsuits and that the HEROES Act (a national emergency law) did not give the Secretary of Education authority to cancel a portion of student loan debt to help borrowers recover from the pandemic. The Court did not address whether any other laws give the Secretary of Education authority to cancel student debt for some or all of the borrowers who would benefit from the current plan.
To block President Biden’s debt relief plan, the conservative majority on the Supreme Court broke from existing precedent and well-established limits on the Court’s authority to allow these cases to proceed. The majority concluded that although the HEROES Act gave the Secretary of Education broad authority to alter any student loan laws to provide borrowers relief in response to a national emergency, the student debt relief program was simply too significant a program for the Secretary to pursue under the HEROES Act without Congress specifically stating that loan cancellation was one of the relief options allowed under that law. This decision creates a new limit on how the Secretary of Education can use that law to provide student loan borrowers relief in response to national emergencies.
What now for borrowers?
Although the Supreme Court struck down President Biden’s plan, borrowers do have other options to get debt relief. President Biden also has the power to act now to protect borrowers. Fortunately, the Supreme Court’s opinion on debt relief is limited. The Supreme Court only said that the President is limited to what it can do for borrowers using national emergency authority under the HEROES Act. It does not prevent the Biden Administration from pursuing debt relief using other legal authority.
Every option must be on the table to ensure that Americans with student loan debt can get the relief they need now. There is no time to wait. The Administration must act fast to deliver promised relief to worried borrowers and prevent the federal government from sending bills Americans cannot afford to pay in September.
We will continue to provide updates on this website with additional news and information on the next steps for borrowers.
For now borrowers can find more information and help with their student loans by visiting these pages on our website: