Despite asserting that they would be appealing a federal court’s decision to block President Joe Biden’s student loan forgiveness plan, the Biden administration has shut down applications for the program.
In August, in an attempt to fulfill a campaign pledge, Biden announced his student loan forgiveness plan — which would have provided debt forgiveness for individuals making below $125,000 or couples earning less than $250,000.
According to an estimation from the White House, over 40 million people could qualify for the program. Roughly 26 million people have already applied, and 16 million of those applications were approved.
However, none of the relief has gone out because of court rulings — and now it appears that the Biden administration is pulling back on its plans.
The administration has stopped accepting applications for student debt forgiveness following U.S. District Judge Mark Pittman’s decision that shut down the program.
“Courts have issued orders blocking our student debt relief program,” the Department of Education wrote on its federal student aid website. “As a result, at this time, we are not accepting applications. We are seeking to overturn those orders.”
Pittman ruled on Thursday that Biden had overstepped his authority in creating the program without congressional approval.
“In this country, we are not ruled by an all-powerful executive with a pen and a phone. Instead, we are ruled by a Constitution that provides for three distinct and independent branches of government,” the Texas judge wrote in his decision.
The administration has appealed this ruling.
Pittman’s ruling came soon after the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals temporarily halted the program while the court considered whether to impose a permanent ban. The case was brought by several Republican-led states.
Meanwhile, White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre stated in a tweet that the Department of Education will “hold on” to the information submitted by those who had already applied for student debt forgiveness so that they can “quickly process their relief” when they “prevail in court.”
For the 26 million borrowers who’ve given @usedgov the necessary information to be considered for debt relief – 16 million of whom have already been approved for relief – the Department will hold onto their info, so it can quickly process their relief once we prevail in court.
— Karine Jean-Pierre (@PressSec) November 11, 2022
Ultimately, Biden’s student loan forgiveness plan will likely end up before the Supreme Court, which currently has a conservative majority.
Individuals with student loan debt have not been required to make payments for some time now, and their loans have not been accruing interest, all because of measures put in place in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. In January 2023, the payments are set to resume and interest will begin to accrue again.
Biden previously stated that the payment and interest pause would not be extended again, but that statement was made prior to the court rulings. It is not clear whether the pause could be continued while legal challenges are being played out.