The Supreme Court is expected to issue an imminent ruling on President Joe Biden’s landmark student loan forgiveness plan. The Court released four decisions on Thursday, but none were on Biden’s student debt relief initiative.
Thursday had been the last official day on the Supreme Court’s calendar to release opinions. But that doesn’t mean the decision isn’t coming. The Court will add additional dates for releasing decisions, as several cases remain outstanding.
Here’s what to expect.
The Supreme Court Will Soon Rule On Biden’s Student Loan Forgiveness Plan
The Biden administration’s student loan forgiveness initiative would provide millions of borrowers with one-time debt relief. Borrowers who earned income within program guidelines could receive $10,000 or $20,000 in loan forgiveness on government-held federal student debt, depending on whether they received a Pell Grant for their education. Pell Grants are a form of federal student aid provided to low-income students who do not have to be repaid.
The Education Department had approved over 16 million borrowers for student loan forgiveness last summer, after the initiative was first unveiled. But officials were forced to suspend the program following several legal challenges. The Biden administration appealed to the Supreme Court, which agreed to take up two separate challenges.
One challenge was brought about by a coalition of Republican-led midwestern states (headed by Nebraska and Missouri) arguing that the program would cause a state-affiliated loan servicer to lose money. And the other was brought in by two borrowers who argued that they were harmed by being excluded from participating in a public comment period about the program’s details and requirements. During a February hearing on the two cases, a majority of Supreme Court justices appeared skeptical of the Biden administration’s claimed authority to enact the program under the HEROES Act, a federal statute from 2003.
But a central question in both cases is whether the parties challenging Biden’s plan have standing to sue. To demonstrate that they have standing, the challengers must show that they would incur a concrete injury directly stemming from the program. Several justices on the Court expressed skepticism that the challengers had standing during the hearings in February. And a seemingly unrelated Supreme Court decision released last week raised some eyebrows about whether a majority could uphold Biden’s plan with a narrow ruling on standing.
When Will The Supreme Court Decision On Biden’s Student Loan Forgiveness Plan Be Issued?
The Supreme Court has a backlog of decisions that must be released before the end of its term. Today had been the last official opinion release day on the Court’s calendar, but no ruling on Biden’s student loan forgiveness plan was issued.
The Court will now be releasing more decisions on Friday, June 23 at 10 am Eastern Time. So the ruling on Biden’s student debt relief plan could be released then. However, with at least a dozen other cases still outstanding, the Court will almost certainly add additional opinion release dates to its calendar. It’s possible the decision may not be released until early July, but at this point, it seems fairly reasonable to expect it to be issued sometime next week if it doesn’t come out tomorrow. The Court may provide further opinion release dates tomorrow morning.
Notably, there are “no rules” regarding the issuance of Supreme Court decisions, as long as all rulings are out before the justices leave for their summer recess, which happens in July.
Update on June 23, 2023: The Supreme Court did not release the student loan forgiveness decision. The next opinion release date is Tuesday, June 27.
Other Student Loan Forgiveness Updates
While millions of borrowers await the Supreme Court’s ruling on Biden’s loan forgiveness plan, there have been other important student loan developments.
This week, a legislative repeal effort brought by Republicans in Congress has officially ended. Biden had excluded student loan forgiveness repeal from the debt ceiling bill he negotiated with House GOP leadership earlier this month, and he had also vetoed a separate bill that would have also repealed the program. Yesterday, the House of Representatives tried to override Biden’s veto, but fell far short of the two-thirds threshold necessary for an override. So at this point, legislative repeal efforts have hit a dead end.
Meanwhile, the Education Department is beginning to implement relief under the IDR Account Adjustment, a separate Biden administration initiative that may provide millions of borrowers with retroactive credit toward loan forgiveness terms under income-driven repayment plans. Some borrowers who reach their milestone for loan forgiveness under the program may start receiving discharges of their balances as soon as this August.
Further Student Loan Forgiveness Reading
30 Million Borrowers May Face New Problems As Student Loans Pause Ends
Student Loan Forgiveness Update: What Biden’s Latest Move Means For Borrowers
4 Big Student Loan Updates When Payments Resume (And They Resume Soon)
7 New Flexibilities As Student Loan Pause Ends And Loan Forgiveness Ruling Looms