Advocates Call for Payment Pause After Judge Axes Biden’s Loan Program

  • Advocates are calling on the White House pause student loan repayments again.
  • The demands come after a federal judge ruled Biden’s relief program unconstitutional.
  • Now, many are concerned as payments are set to resume in the coming months.

Advocates are renewing pressure on The White House to once again take executive action on student loan repayments after a federal judge recently struck down President Joe Biden’s relief program.

As conservative-backed lawsuits are piling up  — coupled with The White House’s intention to appeal the recent ruling to the US Supreme Court — advocates say Biden must give Americans some wiggle room until a final decision is made.

“This is a miscarriage of justice and completely misguided, and we still believe and know that the president’s decision to cancel student debt is fully constitutional,” the president of the Student Debt Crisis Center, Natalia Abrams, told Insider. “It feels like activist judges making a political decision versus a legal decision.”

The Student Debt Crisis Center is a California-based grassroots nonprofit that advocates for the elimination of student loan debt.

“This is not a partisan issue. This is an issue that impacts 40 million Americans of all backgrounds and races and political persuasions, and so we don’t want this politicized,” Executive Director Cody Hounanian told Insider. “We want to get relief into the hands of families who’ve been impacted by the pandemic and continue to struggle.”

Earlier this week, Trump-appointed Texas US District Judge Mark Pittman issued a ruling declaring that Biden’s student loan forgiveness plan is unlawful. The decision comes after two borrowers, Myra Brown and Alexander Taylor, supported by the Job Creators Network, filed a lawsuit because they did not qualify for the program.

Student loan applications were put on hold, although the Biden administration said it will keep open the forms that over 20 million people have already submitted.

Organizations are urging Biden to announce another payment pause extension

Over the summer, many Americans released a collective sigh of relief after the Biden administration offered to give $10,000 in federal student-loan debt to borrowers earning under $125,000 annually. Additionally, Biden approved giving $20,000 in relief to those who received Pell grants and fall under the same income range.

The White House also announced that they extended the student-loan pause for the final time, and payments would be due at the top of 2023.

As Americans are still recovering from the COVID-19 pandemic and looming inflation, Abrams said there should be another pause for student loan borrowers.

“We feel that the President must come out immediately and state that [a pause on] payments will be extended, and not only until all legal hurdles are cleared, but until the debt is actually cleared from people’s accounts,” Abrams said.

The non-profit organization started a petition titled “President Biden: Keep Student Loan Payments Paused” and has collected nearly 40,000 signatures as of November 12.

Other groups, such as the Student Borrower Protection Center, agree.

“The devastating result of this court’s decision … is that tens of millions of student loan borrowers across the country now have their vital debt relief blocked as a result of this farcical and fabricated legal claim,” Deputy Executive Director and Managing Counsel Persis Yu told Tennessee Lookout in a statement after the ruling. “The Biden Administration cannot now resume payments. It must use all of its tools to fight to ensure that borrowers receive the debt relief they need.”

It’s created ‘a lot of frustration’

According to recent data, nearly 50 million Americans have taken out student loans and collectively owe $1.75 trillion. For many people, Biden’s program would help aid them with their crippling debt and would in a way help with closing the racial wealth gap.

“When we bail out Billion dollar corporations, it’s never an issue. But when it comes to lifting people who need the help most, including Pell Grant recipients—51% of which go to students whose families earn less than $20,000 a year—somehow it becomes an issue,” NAACP President Derrick Johnson said, per The Hill.

However, these setbacks “have created a lot of frustration and resentment about the student loan system,” Hounanian told Insider. “We need to continue to remind borrowers that there’s a strong ally working on this issue and many other issues that provide relief to borrowers and try to keep that optimism alive because there is a lot of progress being made despite this roadblock.”

ABC News recently asked White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre if borrowers should be prepared to start thinking about repayment.

“I think we will prevail,” she told the outlet, referring to appealing the judge’s ruling.

She did not say whether Biden would extend the pause.

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