GOP-led states press Supreme Court to review Biden student loan program

Three Republican-led states on Tuesday asked the Supreme Court to block a Biden administration effort to lower monthly payments for millions of student loan borrowers.

At issue is a program created last year that lowers enrolled borrowers’ monthly payments and provides a faster route to debt forgiveness. The program was launched by the Biden administration following the Supreme Court’s decision last year to strike down a broader student loan forgiveness program.

The emergency appeal from South Carolina, Alaska and Texas comes days after a federal appeals court in Denver allowed the program to be implemented. It once again places the issue of student loan relief — a key promise made by then-candidate Joe Biden in 2020 — before the conservative Supreme Court.

“Due to the administration’s intransigence, the court must unfortunately step in again,” the states argued in their filing, which also asks the Supreme Court to review the legality of the program.

The high court is expected to set a briefing schedule and could decide whether to block the program, known as Saving on a Valuable Education, within a few weeks.

Nearly 8 million people are enrolled in SAVE, and roughly 3 million of them were expecting to see lower payments as of July 1 when the plan was fully phased in.

After lower courts initially blocked the plan, the Department of Education said those 3 million borrowers would be put in a forbearance — during which payments would not be required and interest would not accrue — while the matter was litigated.

But after the appeals court sided with the Biden administration Sunday, the Department of Education can move ahead and make those reductions.

The Department of Education said last week that borrowers who were not already placed in a forbearance due to the litigation would see their payments cut by as much as half in July. Those put in a forbearance would see the reduction of their payment starting in August.

The SAVE plan calculates monthly student loan payments based on a borrower’s income and family size — regardless of how much debt they owe. About 4 million borrowers enrolled in SAVE have a $0 monthly payment.

The Department of Education did not immediately respond to a request for comment about the emergency appeal filed Tuesday.

Two groups of Republican-led states filed lawsuits challenging the program earlier this year.

In the case now before the Supreme Court, a district court temporarily blocked the plan’s implementation, but the 10th US Circuit Court of Appeals paused that decision late last month.

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