Biden admin stops accepting student loan forgiveness applications

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(The Hill) – The Biden administration announced on Friday it would stop accepting student loan forgiveness applications after a federal judge ruled against the program on Thursday. 

The site that previously led to the student loan applications now shows a message titled “Student Loan Debt Relief Is Blocked.”

“[A]t this time, we are not accepting applications,” the site reads, explaining the pause is due to the court ruling in Texas. 

The site goes on to say the administration will fight in court for the program and the department will hold the applications of the millions of borrowers who already applied for the relief. 

The Federal Student Aid office is encouraging individuals to sign up for updates as they will “post information as soon as further updates are available.”

President Biden’s plan, which was set to forgive up to $20,000 for some student loan borrowers, was struck down by U.S. District Judge Mark Pittman, a Trump appointee.

The judge said the program is “an unconstitutional exercise of Congress’s legislative power” and the administration would need approval from Congress to move forward. 

“Whether the Program constitutes good public policy is not the role of this Court to determine,” Pittman said. “Still, no one can plausibly deny that it is either one of the largest delegations of legislative power to the executive branch, or one of the largest exercises of legislative power without congressional authority in the history of the United States.”

This is the second — and biggest — win yet for Republicans and conservatives who have launched multiple lawsuits against the Biden administration’s student debt relief program. 

The first win came from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 8th Circuit after a judge temporarily blocked the program in October following a challenge from six GOP-led states.

The ruling Thursday is the second win for opponents of the program out of at least six court cases around the U.S. challenging student debt relief.

Thomas Bennett, an associate professor of law at the University of Missouri, previously told The Hill the Supreme Court is more likely to get involved in the lawsuits against student loan forgiveness if multiple courts hand down different rulings on the program. 

The Biden administration has made clear numerous times it will fight against the challenges to its program, but the legal fight could take months.

While borrowers wait for a final ruling on the program, student loan payments are set to begin at the beginning of 2023, with Biden previously saying he will not extend the pause on payments again.

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