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Supreme Court decides fate of student loans

WED.| 4-5-23 | OPINION

     The future of President Biden’s plan to forgive student loans is now in the hands of the United States (U.S.) Supreme Court. On Feb. 28, the Supreme Court heard oral arguments from both sides regarding President Biden’s plan. The outcome of this case is relatively unknown, as it could swing either way.

     This case began due to Biden’s announcement in August of 2022 that he would forgive $10,000 in student loan debt for American households that make less than $125,000 annually. Overall, the American government would end up paying $400 billion in loan forgiveness over the course of 30 years. Biden’s plan, however, is not a surprise for Americans. Back in 2020, during his long campaign trail, Biden pledged to forgive student loan debts to the best of his ability. 

     This is an absolutely wonderful campaign promise and something that should be acted on. College today costs a 


Graphic by Jack Albritton

ridiculous amount of money. Due to COVID-19, these costs were hard to pay off for many Americans who struggled through the pandemic. The plan makes sense and is what I believe to be a responsible act from the government.

     Although, surrounding this plan are heaps of controversy and objections from the Republican Party. Opponents to Biden’s student loan forgiveness feel that this is a terrible move for the American economy and an egregious abuse of the Executive Branch’s power. Meanwhile, the Biden administration argued that this new plan is constitutional under the Heroes Act, an act that was created in 2003 in response to the tragic events of Sept. 11, 2001. The Heroes Act allowed the U.S. Secretary of Education to waive or modify any student loan programs in response to a national emergency. In this case, the Biden administration argued that COVID-19 created a national emergency that resulted in loss of income for millions of Americans.

     I believe that the justification used by Biden’s administration is absolutely valid. The use of the Heroes Act in 2003 was a response to terrorist attacks that led to a war and affected millions of Americans. The pandemic was also a terrible, unpredictable event that devastated many civilians. Therefore, it is easy to connect the use of the Heroes Act to these two major events. Both had detrimental effects on citizens and resulted in economic hardship and some trouble paying loans. The administration’s ability to easily tie this to a prior act shows how this is not an overreach of power. In fact, this plan would help millions of Americans.

     Even after Biden tied his plan to a former U.S. act, six Republican states- Arkansas, South Carolina, Kansas, Iowa, Nebraska and Missouri- believed that this was still an extreme reach of the president’s power. Missouri’s Court of Appeals sided with the state on the issue over whether or not Biden’s plan had merit, resulting in President Biden and his team requesting an appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court.

     The fact that the states even argued against this plan leaves me baffled. The national government offering federal aid to citizens is their choice. The states should not get a say in what aid the government chooses to give. All they are doing is harming the members of their own state.

     The current case is an argument over whether or not Biden’s plan will pass. Before the arguments took place on Feb. 28, many Americans were certain that the act would not pass. In a Supreme Court where six out of the nine justices are conservative, many believed that they would easily side with the states. However, there is now question surrounding what was believed to be a clear ruling. Arguments presented by Solicitor General Elizabeth Prelogar left the court in awe. Prelogar brought impressive skills and poise to her arguments and was able to excellently argue why this plan would not be an overstep of power. Prelogar’s talent in the courtroom can potentially change the outcome of this hearing.

     While I would sit optimistically hoping that Prelogar alone may have altered the court’s ruling, I know realistically that there is very little hope. Even though they should not, Justices tend to vote on the basis of their ideologies surrounding their parties. I firmly believe that the court will rule in favor of the states and cancel Biden’s plan to relieve student loans. This plan, which could help tons of Americans, will be rejected. Americans with student loans will have to find new ways to make ends meet while paying off these painful debts.

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