Supreme Court to hear student debt forgiveness case involving Nebraska, Iowa AGs

One of two suits will go before the high court Tuesday morning.
The first of two cases involving student loan forgiveness will go before the nation's highest court Tuesday morning.
Published: Feb. 27, 2023 at 10:13 PM CST
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OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) - Last year, President Biden announced an unprecedented plan: forgiving all or a portion of student loan debt for 43 million eligible borrowers.

Whether or not he has the authority to do so comes before the Supreme Court on Tuesday.

An estimated 370,000 Nebraskans and 660,000 Iowans stand to receive $10,000-20,000 in student loan forgiveness — if the Supreme Court agrees Biden has the authority to grant that relief.

Nebraska is in the name of one of two cases to be heard by the Supreme Court first thing Tuesday morning: Joe Biden v. Nebraska, et al.

While Nebraska Attorney General Mike Hilgers declined to comment Monday, a spokesperson said it’s exciting to be at the center of this fight at the Supreme Court, along with Iowa’s attorney general, Brenna Bird.

Attorneys general for six states are taking that fight to the opposition in a rainy nation’s capitol. The high court has set aside two hours for arguments, but it’s expected to go longer. As for a decision or outcome, the Georgetown Law Center’s Frederick Lawrence says it’s murky.

“There’s nothing oblique here,” Lawrence said. “This is clear language in a statute that says you can cancel debt in connection with a national emergency. I think the administration is going to argue that’s precisely what they’re doing.”

There are actually two suits — one by the states, another by two students — both saying the president doesn’t have the right.

The Biden Administration’s plan is based on the Heroes Act, created after 9/11 and now extended. It allows the Secretary of Education to waive or modify the terms of federal student loans as necessary in connection with a national emergency. The COVID-19 pandemic was declared as such by former President Donald Trump in 2020.

Per numbers, Nebraskans currently hold $7.9 billion in student loan debt. Iowans hold $13.2 billion.

In both states, more than 12% of residents have student loans and more than 55% of them are under the age of 35.

It will likely be months before borrowers learn the outcome of the case, but there is a deadline of sorts. The Court generally issues all of its opinions by the end of June before a summer recess.

Whether or not the debt gets canceled, the case’s resolution will bring changes. While federal student loan payments are currently paused, that will end 60 days after the case’s resolution. If the case hasn’t been resolved by June 30, payments will resume 60 days after that.