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The federal student loan forgiveness program proposed by President Joe Biden was tossed out by the Supreme Court on Friday, June 30th, depriving millions of Americans of the opportunity to have up to $20,000 of their debt canceled.

With majority conservative justices, the decision was expected by experts. However, it’s another big setback in higher education, specifically for borrowers who were promised loan forgiveness by the Biden administration last summer.

The judges ruled 6-3 that the administration had no authority to provide debt relief under the 2003 HEROES Act. During the early phases of the COVID-19 outbreak, the Biden administration used that act as justification for the student loan forgiveness.

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Source: ANDREW CABALLERO-REYNOLDS / Getty

“43 million Americans. That’s how many people the rightwing partisan justices on the Supreme Court just condemned to years—sometimes a lifetime—of debt thanks to their own corruption,” Rep. Ilhan Omar tweeted in response to the news. 

The high court concluded that the power granted to the secretary under the legislation to “modify” student loan programs did not permit “basic and fundamental changes in the scheme” created by Congress.

According to the Biden administration’s assessment, the plan would have resulted in the forgiveness of student loans for 20 million borrowers. There are 43 million borrowers that are indebted on their college loans. Before the court battles ended the scheme, more than 26 million borrowers submitted applications for relief.

Senate Majority Leader, Chuck Schumer took to Twitter, saying the ruling was “disappointing and cruel,” and “shows the callousness of the MAGA Republican-controlled Supreme Court.”

“The fight will not end here. The Biden administration has remaining legal routes to provide broad-based student debt cancellation,” he added.

Republicans praised the decision, claiming that President Biden’s proposal had been unfair and that borrowers should be held accountable for repaying their loans.

“The 87% of Americans without student loans are no longer forced to pay for the 13% who do,” Speaker Kevin McCarthy stated.

Federal loan borrowers with annual salaries under $125,000, or $250,000 per household, were eligible for up to $10,000 in forgiveness under the administration’s plan. A further $10,000 in relief was available to qualified debtors who had already earned Pell Grants.

More than $1.7 trillion in federally supported student loan debt is currently owed, according to the US Department of Education.

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