President Joe Biden’s student loan forgiveness plan was front and center Tuesday.
As the justices heard oral arguments on two cases linked to the program, supporters gathered on the front steps of the U.S. Supreme Court.
“We must, and we will do all we can to help educators obtain relief,” said Becky Pringle, president of the National Education Association.
There are two cases at the heart of this argument. In one case, six Republican-led states say they would be harmed financially if the program went into effect.
The other involves two borrowers in Texas who don’t fully qualify for debt forgiveness under the program.
“My thoughts today are really with the over 300 borrowers in our state that, you know, were ready and applied for the forgiveness program,” said Stephanie Sampedro, Washington Student Loan Advocate.
The application was available for less than four weeks.
The White House says more than 26 million Americans applied, and 16 million of them were approved.
Sampedro says when the plan was announced many were overjoyed.
In Washington state, 486,000 people applied or were deemed automatically eligible, and 308,000 of them were approved.
The Congressional Budget Office says the plan, which has been widely criticized by Republicans, would cost almost half a trillion dollars.
“I think the legal justification for it is highly questionable,” said Texas Sen. Ted Cruz.
Sampedro’s message to those against the plan is to put themselves in the shoes of borrowers.
“I would just say, yeah, talk to the folks and see what their lived experiences are like because I think it would be different than the belief they have about student loan borrowers,” said Sampedro.
The justices ruling will determine when payments on federal student loans, which were paused during the pandemic, will resume.
The Biden Administration says that could happen 60 days after litigation is over or at the end of August, whichever comes first.
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