Biden’s loan forgiveness program faces roadblock

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Sienna Williams / The Bucknellian

Kyra DeVoe, Staff Writer

One week after the applications for student debt forgiveness went live, 22 million qualifying individuals had already applied with hopes that the weight of their crippling student debt might be lifted off their shoulders. 

In the weeks following, the applications would have begun to be processed, and the forgiveness of loans would have become a sight on the horizon for all the applicants. The process of President Biden’s forgiveness program was halted on Oct. 21, when a lawsuit filed by six Republican states set out to block the program’s ability to relive any debt. 

Biden’s plan set out to relieve up to $20,000 in student debt for Pell Grant recipients, and up to $10,000 in student debt to non Pell Grant recipients. It also limited the maximum cost of monthly payments from 10 percent of an individual’s discretionary income to five percent of an individual’s discretionary income.

The lawsuit was filed on the grounds that companies who handle state based loans would be hurt by the federal loan forgiveness program. State loan companies also handle federal loans and the court case — filed by Arkansas, Missouri, Iowa, Kansas, South Carolina and Nebraska — claimed that these companies will be irreparably hurt if federal loans are forgiven. 

A federal judge dismissed the case, saying there were no grounds for this lawsuit. After the dismissal, the states appealed the case and requested that the program be put on pause while the cause was being evaluated by a federal appeals court. This request was approved, meaning that the Biden Administration cannot take any steps to relieve student debt at this time. 

In the period of time while Biden’s plan has been paused, individuals who owe thousands of dollars in student debt are still struggling to make payments. 

The Bucknellian reported in September that more than 900 Bucknell students would qualify for the loan forgiveness program. Some students are upset about this roadblock. 

“This is very upsetting for students everywhere, and will have long lasting effects on their futures,” Alexandra Miller ’23 said.

Despite this hindrance to Biden’s new program, his administration is optimistic that this is simply a delay, rather than a halt, to their plan. Biden’s administration is still urging qualified individuals to apply during this time, so that when the pause is lifted the process of their forgiveness will be quicker. 

While it is unlikely that this lawsuit will result in a reversal of the student debt forgiveness program, it is still a roadblock in the way of past and present students who have been waiting years for politicians to do something about their debilitating debt. 

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