‘I’m scared for the future’: Local experts and students react to student loan forgiveness hearing

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — The fate of the Biden Administration’s student loan forgiveness plan is in the hands of the nation’s highest court.

The majority-conservative court heard arguments Tuesday that will determine if up to $20,000 in debt relief can go out to millions of eligible Americans.

Six Republican led states and two individuals are challenging the plan. The states argue it is an overreach of the executive branch and the President does not have the authority to move forward with the relief. The separate challenge from students argues the plan doesn’t go far enough.

Top 5 questions surrounding Biden student loan forgiveness fight at Supreme Court

The showdown between the Biden administration and the two groups of challengers to the president’s plan has been building for months, with many protesters having camped outside the court ahead of Tuesday’s session.

U.S. Solicitor General Elizabeth Prelogar in back-to-back oral arguments will attempt to fend off a group of six GOP-led states, represented by Nebraska Solicitor General James Campbell, followed by a separate challenge from two individuals.

Attorney Barry Covert says the lawsuit centers on balance of power between Congress and the executive branch. He says more pandemic-related lawsuits similar to this case could be filed soon.

“Do the six states, any of the six states, or the two individuals have standing to bring the lawsuit? And if they do, then, was this an authority that Congress granted to any administration, in this case the Biden Administration to extinguish these loans,” Covert explained.

He called this case just the tip of the iceberg and says politics in Washington are also playing a role.

“This really does come down to a fundamental constitutional question of powers between Congress and the executive branch and how much authority Congress can give the executive branch to enact legislation, but you can’t take the politics out of this, not given the recent Supreme Court’s composition or recent decisions.”

Some students at SUNY Buffalo State are concerned about the future of this plan. They are hoping for some relief as they near graduation in May. Janiyyah Christopher is a senior and plans to attend law school, which will add more loans on her plate.

“After I pay off these loans, I’ll have other loans and if I don’t pay off those loans, I’ll have more loans just added,” Christopher said.

Connor Greczyn is a film student and did not hear back on his forgiveness application. He is worried about how he will afford to pay them off.

“It was more of just a tease. I think a lot of people were pretty disappointed about that. I’m scared. Scared for the future,” Greczyn said.

Financial experts say borrowers should wait to pay back the loans until the Supreme Court has made a decision.

“I think they should just hold out. If I’m on suspension, I wouldn’t make any payments, but I wouldn’t be spending that money on cruises or anything either. I would set the money aside and wait until we have a final decision. When we have a final decision, you’ll know whether or not that’s going to go back to paying those student loans,” Dr. Joelle Leclaire, professor of economics and finance at Buffalo State, said.

The Supreme Court is not expected to issue a decision for several months. It is likely to come down before the end of the court’s term in the early summer.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Tara Lynch is a Buffalo native who joined the News 4 team as a reporter in 2022. She previously worked at WETM in Elmira, N.Y., a sister station of News 4. You can follow Tara on Facebook and Twitter and find more of her work here.

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