President Joe Biden is not giving up in his fight to forgive billions of dollars in federal student loan debt for borrowers, but conservatives aren’t giving up in their fight against it, either.
On Friday, multiple conservative groups filed a lawsuit against the U.S. Department of Education regarding the president’s latest forgiveness plan. Biden rolled that plan out after his initial proposal to cancel as much as $20,000 in federal student loan debt was struck down by the Supreme Court.
The lawsuit was filed in Michigan federal court by the Mackinac Center for Public Policy, and the Cato Institute. It argues that the White House overstepped the authority it has in putting the plan forward. The lawsuit requests that the judge block the DOE from being able to enact the plan until the full lawsuit is heard.
The DOE fired back quickly to the lawsuit, according to The Associated Press, saying it was “a desperate attempt from right-wing special interests to keep hundreds of thousands of borrowers in debt. We are not going to back down or give an inch when it comes to defending working families.”
In the middle of July, Biden announced that his new plan would forgive effectively $39 billion in total federal student loans for as many as 804,000 total borrowers. It would be doing this by enrolling these borrowers in income-driven repayment plans, or IDRPs.
These plans aren’t anything new, as they’ve long been in use for student loans after borrowers have made payments for 20 or 25 years. Now, though, the Biden administration is claiming that “past administrative failures” caused payment counts to be inaccurate, which set borrowers back years and negated how many years should’ve been counted toward repayment in terms of forgiveness.
The latest plan is being called a “one-time account adjustment,” according to the Biden administration. In doing so, it will treat certain periods where borrowers weren’t making payments as periods where they were making payments, which essentially pushes the more than 800,000 borrowers into the threshold where they could qualify for loan forgiveness.
Biden’s new plan would include the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program by offering some plan cancellation for anyone who works in a non-profit job or for the government after they make 10 years’ worth of repayments.
The conservative groups’ lawsuit specifically calls out the absurdity of these definitions when it says:
“No authority allows the Department to count non-payments as payments. The inescapable conclusion is that the One-Time Account Adjustment is substantively and procedurally unlawful. The Court should declare this forbearance-credit scheme unlawful, set it aside, and enjoin any cancellation of student loans based on it.”
The lawsuit was brought on behalf of the two groups by the New Civil Liberties Alliance. One of the main arguments the NCLA is making is that the Biden administration is moving too quickly to roll out these plans, hoping, in essence, to get something done before courts can do anything about it.