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Biden May Have No Better Luck With Plan B on Student Loans, Experts Say

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Biden at a press meeting.

The Messenger, July 2023

When the Supreme Court ruled Joe Biden didn’t have the authority to erase up to $20,000 from federal student loan balances, the president quickly announced he wasn’t giving up and would pursue another path to granting borrowers some type of loan cancellation. But the new approach — which would rely on the Higher Education Act of 1965 rather than the HEROES Act of 2003 — could just as easily be challenged up to the Supreme Court level, and would likely produce the same result, some experts say. 

Without getting Congressional approval for cancellation, Biden leaves himself vulnerable to the same fate, said Dan Urman, a professor at Northeastern University School of Law who studies the intersection of law and politics, especially at the Supreme Court. “I think we’ll be right back to where we are,” Urman said.

Biden didn’t give any numbers or details about his plan B on Friday, but did say he would put the wheels in motion to invoke the Higher Education Act, which would allow Education Secretary Miguel Cardona to “compromise, waive, or release loans under certain circumstances.” He said the new path to cancellation, which would take longer to implement, was “legally sound” and “the best path that remains to provide as many borrowers as possible with debt relief.”

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