Student Loans

The Supreme Court Will Hear a Second Challenge Over Biden's Student Loan Forgiveness Plan

As the Court agrees to take up yet another case against the Education Department's loan forgiveness plan, Biden's goal of forgiving billions in student loans seems increasingly doomed.


On Monday, the Supreme Court announced that it would hear a second challenge over President Joe Biden's federal student loan forgiveness plan.

With Biden's plan having been blocked twice in federal court, the Education Department will now have to victory not once but twice in order to finally begin enacting its plan. With a broadly conservative Court, that possibility seems slim.

In August, the Biden administration announced a sweeping plan to forgive up to $20,000 in federal student loans per borrower, allowing individuals making up to $125,000 and couples making up to $250,000 annually to benefit from the plan. Benefits start at $10,000 of forgiveness, rising to $20,000 if the borrower received a Pell Grant. The plan would be enacted under the HEROES Act, a 2003 law giving the Secretary of Education the power to give federal student loan relief "in connection with a war or other military operation or national emergency," with the Education Department classifying the COVID-19 pandemic as such an emergency.

The plan faced sharp criticism, primarily over its expected cost, which some estimates placed as high as $1 trillion over the next decade. The plan's legality was also challenged, with multiple lawsuits filed quickly after Biden's announcement. Last month, a Texas federal court declared the plan unconstitutional. Just three days later, the law was blocked again by a Missouri federal court.

The Supreme Court has now agreed to hear the Biden administration's challenges to both federal court decisions blocking federal student loan forgiveness. While the Court agreed to hear the case surrounding the Missouri court's decision earlier this month, it did not announce that it would review the Texas ruling until Monday.

While the Missouri ruling surrounds a challenge brought by a coalition of six Republican-led states that object to the plan, the Texas case is somewhat lower in scale, having been brought by two student loan borrowers who argued against the plan's legality.

While this latest development provides a sliver of hope for supporters of the Biden administration's plan, it seems highly unlikely that the Education Department will secure wins in both cases. With the conservative-leaning Court widely expected to rule against the Education Department, it seems that Biden's student loan proposal is bound to be scrapped altogether. Oral arguments are set to begin in February for the Missouri case and late February or early March for the Texas case, so it could be months before the fate of Biden's student loan forgiveness plan is known.

It's difficult to know the precise political fallout of a loss at the Supreme Court. But with public opinion of the Court so low, especially among Democrats, Biden's doomed attempt to unilaterally forgive student loans could likely be enough to gain inroads with single-issue voters—even if his attempt is unsuccessful.