Judges in 2 States Halt Chunk of Biden Loan Forgiveness Plan

Kansas, Missouri earn temporary victory that puts the kibosh on key parts of student loan program
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Jun 25, 2024 8:47 AM CDT
Judges in 2 States Halt Chunk of Biden Loan Forgiveness Plan
Kansas Attorney General Kris Kobach speaks during a news conference on March 28 in Topeka, Kansas.   (AP Photo/John Hanna, File)

Federal judges in Kansas and Missouri on Monday together blocked much of a Biden administration student loan repayment plan that provides a faster path to cancellation and lower monthly payments for millions of borrowers. The judges' rulings prevent the US Department of Education from helping many of the intended borrowers ease their loan repayment burdens going forward under a rule set to go into effect July 1. The decisions don't cancel assistance already provided to borrowers, per the AP.

  • Kansas: US District Judge Daniel Crabtree ruled in a lawsuit filed by the state's attorney general, Kris Kobach, on behalf of his state and 10 others. In his ruling, Crabtree allowed parts of the program that allow students who borrowed $12,000 or less to have the rest of their loans forgiven if they make 10 years' worth of payments, instead of the standard 25. But Crabtree said that the Department of Education won't be allowed to implement parts of the program meant to help students who had larger loans and could have their monthly payments lowered and their required payment period reduced from 25 years to 20 years.

  • Missouri: US District Judge John Ross' order applies to different parts of the program than Crabtree's. His order says that the Department of Education can't forgive loan balances going forward. He said the department still could lower monthly payments. Ross issued a ruling in a lawsuit filed by Missouri Attorney General Andrew Bailey on behalf of his state and six others.
  • Context: Both orders are preliminary, meaning the injunctions imposed by the judges would remain in effect through a trial of the separate lawsuits. However, to issue a temporary order, each judge had to conclude that the states were likely to prevail in a trial. Together, the two rulings, each by a judge appointed by former President Obama, a Democrat, appeared to greatly limit the scope of the Biden administration's efforts to help borrowers after the US Supreme Court last year rejected the Democratic president's first attempt at a forgiveness plan. Both judges said Education Secretary Miguel Cardona exceeded the authority granted by Congress in laws dealing with student loans.
  • Reaction: Bailey and Kobach each hailed the decision from their state's judge as a major legal victory against the Biden administration and argue that forgiving some students' loans shifts the cost of repaying them to taxpayers. "Only Congress has the power of the purse, not the president," Bailey said in a statement. "Today's ruling was a huge win for the rule of law, and for every American who Joe Biden was about to force to pay off someone else's debt."
  • Biden administration: The White House said it strongly disagrees with the judges' rulings and would continue to defend the program and use every available tool to give relief to students and borrowers. In a statement, White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said the Biden administration "will never stop fighting for students and borrowers—no matter how many roadblocks Republican elected officials and special interests put in our way."

(More student loans stories.)

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