SAINT PAUL, Minn. – On Friday, the U.S. Supreme Court issued a ruling against the Biden administration’s plan to forgive student loan debt for more than 40 million Americans. Under the program struck down by the court, borrowers would have been eligible for up to $10,000 of relief, or $20,000 for recipients of a Pell Grant.
The decision comes on the heels of Congress voting to end the loan repayment pause that went into effect in March 2020, meaning borrowers will resume owing monthly payments starting in October.
Later Friday, President Biden announced that the U.S. Department of Education will seek to provide debt relief through the Higher Education Act and create a 12-month “on ramp” to protect those who fail to make a payment from default or damage to their credit score.
On another positive note, rules proposed by the U.S. Department of Education, monthly repayments would be capped at 5 percent of a borrower’s discretionary income, people earning 225 percent of the federal poverty level will be exempt from payment requirements, and borrowers will not be subject to interest payments that increase their debt, enriching banks instead of schools. (For more information, please visit www.StudentAid.gov/debt-relief-announcement.)
Senator Omar Fateh (DFL-Minneapolis), chair of the Senate Higher Education Committee, issued the following statement in response to the news:
“I am extremely troubled by the ruling handed down by the conservative majority on the Supreme Court. Today’s decision means that younger generations will continue to struggle to build wealth. For an ever-growing number of Americans, the weight of decades of debt payments means buying a home, opening a business, or starting a family are out of reach.
Even if the court had upheld the program, loan debt relief would only be a band-aid on a structural problem that exploits young people for the benefit of banks and investors. The best way to end the student debt crisis is to stop students from taking on debt in the first place. This year in Minnesota, where 775,000 residents are burdened by an average of $37,000 in loans, we made a historic investment in college accessibility for low- and middle-income families. Beginning in fall 2024, the North Star Promise program will provide tuition-free public college for Minnesota households earning less than $80,000.
Other provisions include an increase to the State Grant Program, more funding for emergency grants to students, and investments in childcare support for parents enrolled in higher education. These are merely the first steps in making Minnesota the best, most equitable state in the nation for students, in part by preventing them from ever falling prey to the loan debt trap.”