January 18, 2023

Warren Asks Key Organizations to Provide Information on How Republican-led Efforts to Block Student Debt Relief Are Impacting Middle-Class Americans

“Republican officials are standing in the way of hardworking middle- and working-class Americans who are getting crushed by student debt”

“Without cancellation, millions of Americans’ monthly costs could rise dramatically once student loan payments resume.”

Text of Letters (pdf)

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) sent a letter to leading higher education, consumer advocacy, and economic justice groups seeking information about how Republican-led objections and extremist judges’ actions to block President Biden’s student debt cancellation plan have affected the 43 million borrowers who are due relief. The Senator is specifically asking the organizations about how the courts’ delay of student loan relief has impacted the organizations' members and to learn more about what this relief could mean for them.

On August 24, 2022, the Biden-Harris Administration announced a historic decision to provide student debt relief to borrowers who need it the most. As part of its three-part plan, the administration will (1) cancel up to $20,000 in debt for as many as 43 million borrowers, (2) reform the student loan system for current and future borrowers by creating a new income-driven repayment (IDR) plan that cuts monthly payments in half for undergraduate loans and improves the Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) program; and (3) strengthen efforts to hold colleges accountable for price increases. 

On November 14, 2022, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit sided with a coalition of six Republican-led states to institute an emergency injunction that blocks this student loan relief through the court system. And on November 11, 2022, a federal judge in Texas blocked President Biden’s student debt cancellation plan, endangering the possibility of relief for millions of borrowers. 

Last month, the Supreme Court announced that justices would hear oral arguments in both cases challenging President Biden’s student debt cancellation plan on February 28, 2023.

“There is little merit to these cases. The President of the United States has legal jurisdiction to provide student loan relief under the Higher Education Relief Opportunities for Students (HEROES) Act of 2003. HEROES lawfully gives the Secretary of Education the ability to relieve student debts for people affected by a national emergency. If not for the courts and Republican efforts, roughly 16 million Americans could have been approved and seen up to $20,000 in student debt cancelled. Instead, these partisan and legally tenuous attempts to block the President’s authority have left these borrowers in limbo,” continued the Senator.

In the letter, Senator Warren requests information to understand the beneficial impacts of student debt cancellation and how attempts to deny relief to middle-class families have affected organizations’ membership: what would debt cancellation mean for members, who stands to benefit the most, does the organization believe President Biden has the legal authority to cancel student loan debt, how are legal challenges affecting members, what the impact on members would be if a decision to deny student loan relief is upheld, and how can the federal government help protect and expand relief to members who are experiencing financial hardship due to student loan debt.