We continue our efforts to fight the student debt crisis, this time in court. The AAUP joined the American Federation of Teachers and the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees in filing an amicus brief this week in the US Supreme Court in support of the Biden administration’s efforts to grant much-needed relief to individuals holding student loan debt. Our brief argues that a plan announced by the secretary of education in August 2022 to partially forgive student loans for certain eligible borrowers is a lawful exercise of authority granted by Congress.
In the brief, we stress in particular the financial challenges that the pandemic has created for college and university faculty who hold student loan debt. Drawing on several individual accounts and AAUP reports, the brief explains that the pandemic “has deepened the already substantial financial hardships and employment instability of adjuncts and other university faculty.”
The court challenges arose last year after the Department of Education granted up to $10,000 in student-loan relief to eligible borrowers with annual incomes under $125,000, and $20,000 to qualifying Pell Grant recipients. Following the Biden Administration’s announcement of this new plan, six Republican-led states filed a lawsuit seeking to stop its implementation. A federal district court dismissed the lawsuit after finding that the states lacked standing to sue, but a federal appeals court revived the lawsuit and has temporarily enjoined the plan’s implementation pending a final decision on appeal. The Biden administration has sought further review in the Supreme Court, which has agreed to hear arguments in the case on February 28.
We will update you as the legal situation develops, and will continue to push for more actions and policies that alleviate student debt in ways that move us towards a more just and equitable society.
Risa Lieberwitz, AAUP General Counsel