Supreme Court agrees to hear another challenge to Biden’s student loan forgiveness program and leaves program blocked

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Supreme Court agrees to hear another challenge to Biden’s student loan forgiveness program and leaves program blocked

Ariane de Vogue

By Ariane de Vogue, CNN Supreme Court Reporter

Updated 12:22 PM EST, Mon December 12, 2022

The U.S. Supreme Court is seen in the early morning hours of November 4, 2022 in Washington, DC.

The U.S. Supreme Court is seen in the early morning hours of November 4, 2022 in Washington, DC.Samuel Corum/Getty ImagesCNN — 

The US Supreme Court announced on Monday that it will hold arguments in a second case in February concerning President Biden’s student loan forgiveness program, which is currently on hold.

The challenge has been brought by two individual borrowers – Myra Brown and Alexander Taylor – who are not qualified for full debt relief forgiveness and who say they were denied an opportunity to comment on the Education Secretary’s decision to provide targeted student loan debt relief to some.

The justices have already announced they will hear arguments in a different case this term, in a dispute brought by a group of states. The court did not say whether it would ultimately consolidate the two cases.

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The court did ask for briefs, however, on whether the challengers in the new case had the legal right or “standing” to bring the case. The court also asked the parties to discuss whether Biden’s plan was “statutorily authorized” and was adopted in a “procedurally proper manner.”

The court said it would not, for now, lift a block on the program that remains in place.

The court’s action Monday does not change the state of play as the program has already been frozen while legal challenges play out. It does, however, add new plaintiffs to the mix.

Biden’s program would offer up to $20,000 of debt relief to millions of qualified borrowers, but it has been met with legal challenges since it was announced.

Last month, the Biden administration began notifying people who are approved for federal student loan relief. About 26 million people had already applied to the program by the time it was frozen prompting the government to stop taking applications. No debt has been canceled thus far.

In the case at hand, Solicitor General Elizabeth Prelogar had urged the justices to lift a block on the program and hear oral arguments this term. They agreed only to the latter request.

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“This is the second of two cases in which lower courts have entered nationwide orders blocking the Secretary of Education’s plan to use his statutory authority to provide dept relief to student-loan borrowers affected by the Covid-19 pandemic,” Prelogar argued in court papers.

The program is designed to aid borrowers who are at highest risk of delinquency or default. Once debt cancellation begins, the plan could offer up to $10,000 in student loan debt relief to eligible borrowers making less than $125,000 ($250,000 per household.)

In addition, borrowers who received a Pell grant can receive up to $20,000 in relief.

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