President Biden announced new actions to protect student loan borrowers on Friday, after the Supreme Court ruled his student loan forgiveness program did not have legal standing.
In a speech from the White House he said his new path would be consistent with the Court’s ruling “to provide student debt relief to as many borrowers as possible as quickly as possible.”
Under his new act, Education Secretary Miguel Cardona—who stood beside the President during his address—would be directed to waive or release loans under certain circumstances.
“This new path is legally sound,” Biden declared. “It’s going to take longer, but in my view it’s the best path that remains to providing for as many borrowers as possible debt relief.”
He added that Cardona had already taken the initial steps to initiate the program, stating, “We are not going to waste any time on this.”
Secondly, he stated that knowing borrowers need to make hard personal budget choices in order to meet their monthly student loan payments, the Biden Administration was creating what he called 12-month “On-Ramp Repayment Program.” The Department of Education would not refer borrowers who missed payments to credit agencies for 12 months to give them a chance to get back up and running.
Amid this period “bills will not go out and interest will not be accruing,” said Biden.
He added, “If you can pay your monthly bills you should. But if you cannot, if you miss payments, this on-ramp temporally removes the threat of default or having your credit harmed which can hurt borrowers for years to come.”
He also directed borrowers to studentaid.gov for more information.
President Biden spoke hours after the Supreme Court ruled 6-3 to strike down his student loan forgiveness program. In an opinion written by Chief Justice John Roberts, the Court rejected the Biden Admnistration’s assertion that the 2003 HEROES Act allowed the Education Secretary to grant relief in times of national emergency—such as the Covid-19 pandemic.
In his opinion Roberts said that while the Education Secretary is authorized under the HEROES Act “to waive or modify any provision” applicable to federal “student financial assistance” programs, he doesn’t have to authority to rewrite a statute from the ground up.
Biden said Friday afternoon that his student loan forgiveness program was all set to begin, with a website and simplified applications, ahead of Republicans’ levying their legal challenge that ended up before the Supreme Court. The President added that “16 million people had already been approved.”
He further asserted that some of the same members of Congress who opposed his student debt relief program received their own funding out of the Covid-era PPP relief program.
“Their hypocrisy is stunning,” Biden asserted, further stating, “It’s only about forgiving loans they have to pay.”
He also added before stepping away from reporters, “I think the Court misinterpreted the Constitution” in issuing its decision.
The student loan forgiveness rejection was the first of two decisions ruled along the Court’s conservative supermajority lines on the final day of its 2022-2023 term.
A short time before the student loan decision came down, the Supreme Court ruled 6-3 that a wedding web designer can refuse to provide services to LGBTQ customers, citing the First Amendment.
On Thursday President Biden said he would directthe Department of Education to analyze what practices help further more inclusive and diverse student bodies after the Supreme Court ruled—along the 6-3 conservative supermajority lines—to bar affirmative action both for private and public colleges, citing the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th amendment, in an opinion written by Justice Neil Gorsuch.
In answering a reporter’s question following that Thursday announcement, Biden said off the cuff, “this is “not a normal court.”
In a TV interview later in the day, he clarified by saying that this particular Supreme Court said the court seems to go out of its way to “unravel rights.”