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Fates in wait: student loan forgiveness in the hands of the US Supreme Court

The US Supreme Court is now holding the fate of up to 40 million students in their hands as they deliberate on the legality of the Biden administration’s proposed loan forgiveness plan.

This comes after the plan was previously blocked by lower state courts in November of last year. However, the Supreme Court will posit its final ruling on the case in June.

The government is working off the precedent set by the 2003 ‘Heroes Act’ which is able to “waive or modify” student debts for those impacted by “a war or other military operation or a national emergency”. However, this has generated controversy over what is seen as a broad interpretation of the law.

26 million people have already applied for forgiveness with the proposed plan forgiving up to $10,000 (£8310) per borrower and $20,000 in some cases.

This therefore leaves those who would be affected by the plan in wait. The country’s emergency pandemic measures are presently in effect, meaning there is a pause on loan repayments. However, if challenges to the plan are not resolved by the end of June, payments will resume 60 days later.

The Supreme Court currently operates at a 6-3 majority of conservative justices with Biden’s appointee Ketanji Brown Jackson replacing previous liberal justice Stephen Breyer in June last year.

If implemented, nearly 90% of the country’s student borrowers would qualify for the plan.


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