The Biden Administration believes that the financial aftermath of the global pandemic provided sufficient cause to grant student loan forgiveness. Legally, the student loan debt relief plan was proposed under the HEROES Act, an act that permits the secretary of education to waive or modify federal student loans in the event of a national emergency. The HEROES Act was originally passed to prevent service members from being financially penalized while serving in Afghanistan and Iraq.
Supporters of student loan debt relief believe that the financial stress caused by the pandemic will cause borrowers to default on their loans. As stated by Sonia Sotomayor, Associate Justice of the Supreme Court: “[borrowers’] financial situation will be even worse because once you default, the hardship on you is exponentially greater. You can’t get credit. You’re going to pay higher prices for things.”
People in opposition to the student loan debt relief program believe that the plan is unfair to people who chose not to go to college or who were able to pay off their loans independently. Ultimately, the Supreme Court ruled against the plan, 6-3.
Regardless of the Supreme Court ruling, some politicians and activists believe Biden still has the legal grounds to forgive student loans, on account of the Higher Education Act of 1965. It seems improbable, however, that the President will take such action.