WASHINGTON — The Biden administration is no longer accepting student loan forgiveness applications after a second federal court shut down the program.
“The courts have issued orders blocking our student debt relief program,” the Department of Education said on its federal student aid website. “As a result, at this time, we are not accepting applications. We are seeking to rescind these orders.
Keeping a campaign promise, President Joe Biden announced plans in August to forgive up to $20,000 in federal student debt for people with incomes below $125,000 or households earning less than $250,000. dollars. The White House has estimated that more than 40 million people could be eligible.
Already, around 26 million people have applied and 16 million applications have been approved. However, due to court rulings, no aid was provided. The Department of Education “will quickly process their redress once we win in court,” White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said.
U.S. District Judge Mark Pittman in Texas ruled Thursday that Biden exceeded his authority by creating the debt relief package without congressional approval.
“In this country, we are not ruled by an all-powerful executive with a pen and a phone. Instead, we are governed by a Constitution that provides for three separate and independent branches of government,” Pittman wrote.
The administration appealed this decision.
Pittman’s decision came after the 8th United States Circuit Court of Appeals temporarily halted the program while it considered imposing a permanent ban. This case has been brought by half a dozen Republican-led states.
The student loan forgiveness is likely to end up in the Supreme Court.
People with student loan debt have not been required to make payments during the pandemic. But payments are expected to resume and interest will start accumulating again in January.
Biden said the payment break would no longer be extended, but that was before court rulings. It was unclear whether the hiatus could continue while legal challenges to the program unfold.
Regarding loan forgiveness, the Ministry of Education said on its website that it will retain applications from those who have already applied.