Life decisions in limbo as student loan battle heads to Supreme Court

Uneasiness is growing as at least 26 million people learn they’ll have to wait even longer for an answer on if they’ll get student loan debt relief.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla — Frustration is growing as millions of people learn they’ll have to wait even longer for an answer on if they’ll get student loan debt relief. The case is going to the Supreme Court and there reportedly may not be an answer until the summer.

“I wish I kind of knew,” said Madeline Trudeau, a sculpture student at the University of North Florida. “It probably would change my decisions right now. I’d probably try to work more now and do things like be an RA, also just the classes I take.”

As we roll towards the winter, summer may feel far off. That’s when the Supreme Court signaled it would have an answer on whether 26 million people will have a weight lifted off their shoulders. That weight: up to $20,000 in student loans.

Trudeau says she’s “a little overwhelmed” thinking about her student loans. She’s a little in limbo, as is the case now going to the country’s highest court. The question is whether the president has the authority to cancel student loan debt.

“President Biden’s proposal is going to have a tough row to hoe in making that case because of other recent precedents and because the question, front and center is, ‘what is the national emergency?'” said Nick Allard, founding dean of Jacksonville University College of Law.

As Allard says, the Biden administration is relying on the HEROES Act of 2003, which lets the Department of Education forgive student loans during a national emergency. The national emergency, they argue, is the COVID-19 pandemic.

But six states argue the president does not have this authority and their lawsuit led to the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in St. Louis blocking the loan forgiveness plan. As the wait continues in this decision that would change lives, those like Trudeau stick to what’s certain right now.

“I’m a sculptor,” she said. “Realistically, I couldn’t imagine myself doing anything else. There’s a lot of things I care about so I want to use my art to really change those things.”

The pause on student loan payments has been extended until June 30 or until all lawsuits against the plan are resolved.

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