President’s student loan forgiveness is on pause as court considers Republican appeal to stop the program

U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona says they won’t stop accepting applications during the court stay. However, the administration can’t send out relief unless the stay is lifted.
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Published: Nov. 3, 2022 at 2:54 PM AKDT
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WASHINGTON (Gray DC) - Millions of borrowers are caught in limbo as the President’s student loan forgiveness program remains on hold after attorneys general from six Republican-led states issued a court challenge to stop the program.

“Unfortunately there are several Republican leaders who are trying to sue us to stop this from happening,” said U.S. Secretary Miguel Cardona as he spoke to Washington News Bureau reporter Jamie Bittner on Thursday. He added “we recognize that some of these cases are frivolous. However, there is a stay on our ability to provide the debt relief right now because of these Republicans. But, we’re going to continue to fight in court to make sure that once the stay is lifted, we can deliver for the American people.”

Initially, a lower court sided with the President to allow the student loan forgiveness program to go forward. However, an appeal was filed and a stay was issued as it is considered.

The legal challenge to the program was filed by Republican attorneys general from Arkansas, Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska, and South Carolina.

Learn more about the 6-state legal challenge here

When asked what his message is to the millions of people waiting on the relief, Cardona said “my message is to pay attention to what’s happening in your community, who is trying to block this, and make sure that you recognize who’s trying to help you. And, who’s stopping or trying to stop us from helping you. I would tell them to remain confident that we’re putting our best foot forward to fight for them daily. We’re meeting with our attorneys, the attorneys for the White House, Department of Justice, to make sure that we’re very clear on our positioning. And, I have confidence that we have the ability to do what we’re doing, just like we provided debt relief for those who had small businesses and needed support.”

The Biden administration believes they are on solid legal ground as they act on a law passed in 2003 known as the HEROES Act (Higher Education Relief Opportunities for Students Act). The act was passed after the September 11, 2001 attacks to aid veterans impacted by 9/11 and people impacted by national emergencies.

Back when the legal challenge was first filed, Washington News Bureau reporter Jamie Bittner asked Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge why she thought the HEROES Act should not be applied in this case.

Rutledge said, “quite honestly, it’s shameful that President Biden would use the HEROES Act, which was designed to give financial relief to our brave men and women in the military, as well as those incurring this debt and challenges during a national emergency. President Biden just a few short weeks ago announced that the pandemic was over. Perhaps President Biden forgot that he stated the pandemic was over when he used the HEROES Act, rather than using the HEROES Act to support our brave men and women in military.”

She also believes the program is unfair.

“Every American is hurt by this student loan cancelation plan of President Biden,” said Rutledge. “It now puts the debt of those adults who decided to go to college, who chose to take out these loans, it now puts that debt on the backs of hard working electricians, plumbers, teachers, nurses.”

The U.S. Department of Education will continue accepting applications for the President’s student loan forgiveness program during the court stay. However, it cannot issue any relief until the matter is decided.

The Secretary of Education said if the stay is lifted by the court, they’re ready to send out that relief.

“We’re ready to go,” said Cardona. “We just need this stay to be lifted so we can get this going. We could deliver on what the president committed to.”

The department has processed 16 million of the 26 million applications it has received so far.

To learn more about student loan forgiveness, go to studentaid.gov.