Southern and Midwest States Sue Biden for Student Loan Forgiveness

President Joe Biden, joined by Education Secretary Miguel Cardona, delivers remarks about student loan forgiveness, Wednesday, August 24, 2022, in the Roosevelt Room at the White House. (Official White House Photo by Erin Scott)

Citing an “unwell” economy with “no sign of relief,” the states of Missouri, South Carolina, Iowa, Arkansas, Kansas and Nebraska are suing President Biden, Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona and the U.S. Department of Education for the administration’s student loan forgiveness plan, court documents reveal. 

Biden’s student loan forgiveness plan will cancel up to $20,000 in debt for single people earning less than $125,000 per year, couples who earn less than $250,000 per year and Pell Grant recipients. However, the Republican leaders of these states do not agree that the relief is what the economy needs.

“This burden of economic loss will do little to benefit the working class and the poor,” the government leaders said in a statement. “The majority of the Mass Debt Cancellation will accrue to the debt borrowers in the top 60% of the income distribution. It is fundamentally unfair for those who can least afford it to provide through their tax dollars relief to the well-off who can afford to pay their own loans.” 

The court filing requests that the Supreme Court temporarily pause the program. Some Howard University students and alumni do not agree with their states’ political leaders on pausing the program.

It’s very frustrating to see that the state I live in is suing Biden for his forgiveness program,” said Lauren Taylor, a spring 2022 graduate of Howard University and a Kansas City, Missouri, native and resident. 

“Clearly millions of Americans are falling behind or unable to complete their payments,” Taylor said. “I don’t understand how relieving those of their payments so that they are able to move forward is a problem. I hope they are unsuccessful in their pursuits.” 

Current students, like Colin Barnes, a Kansas City, Kansas, native who says he’s been helped dramatically by student loans, expressed his disdain for the lawsuit. 

“As I have grown up in a middle-class Black family, FAFSA [Free Application for Federal Student Aid] does not give me many grants for college as they assume my parents can just afford the entire thing,” Barnes said. “If this loan forgiveness goes through, it still would not delete all of the loans I’ve taken out over the four years I have been at Howard.” 

However, he affirmed that the forgiveness program would greatly benefit him. “A $10,000 forgiveness would reach great lengths in paying down my loans faster,” Barnes said. 

Despite the lawsuit, eligible borrowers were able to apply for loan forgiveness when it went live on Oct. 1. While it is unclear how borrowers from the plaintiff states will be impacted, some residents and natives, like CarNya Sutton, are hoping that it doesn’t 

Sutton said that student loan debt in South Carolina is high and that President Biden “should not allow his administration to be bullied by these states who aren’t putting the needs of the people first.” 

“It would really help those residents if he keeps his original plan or revises it so they can still take full advantage,” Sutton said.

Recent data shows South Carolina has the sixth highest federal student loan debt of all states. Iowa, however, has one of the lowest. States like Missouri (22nd), Arkansas (34th), Kansas (42nd) and Nebraska (44th) rank in the middle. 

Darreonna Davis is a reporter and regional bureau chief for HUNewsService.com.