Texas judge rules Biden's student loan plan unlawful

In the US, a university education can very easily cost more than $100,000

President Joe Biden gives remarks on student debt relief at Delaware State University on October 21. Getty / AFP
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A US judge in Texas has blocked President Joe Biden’s plan to forgive millions of borrowers up to $20,000 each in student loans after the popular programme was challenged by six Republican states.

In the US, a university education can very easily cost more than $100,000 and many borrowers are unable to pay the amount off over the course of their career. The issue of whether former students should be given any relief has become a political football.

Mr Biden's plan to forgive a portion of loans made through federal programmes has been credited in part for the high turnout among younger people during this week's midterm elections.

US District Judge Mark Pittman, an appointee of former president Donald Trump, sided with two borrowers in Texas who argued the government violated federal administrative procedure in implementing Mr Biden's plan.

“In this country, we are not ruled by an all-powerful executive with a pen and a phone,” Mr Pittman wrote in an order declaring the policy unlawful.

“Instead, we are ruled by a Constitution that provides for three distinct and independent branches of government.”

The loan forgiveness plan had already been put on hold under an emergency stay from a federal appeals court in a separate lawsuit brought by six Republican-led states.

The Department of Justice said it would appeal the decision. White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said the administration strongly disagreed with the ruling.

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“The president and this administration are determined to help working and middle-class Americans get back on their feet, while our opponents — backed by extreme Republican special interests — sued to block millions of Americans from getting much-needed relief,” Ms Jean-Pierre said in a statement.

Mr Biden’s plan, which applies to federally administered loans, calls for $10,000 in relief per borrower, subject to income caps of $125,000 per individual and $250,000 per household.

Recipients of Pell Grants, federal aid for low-income students, can be forgiven an additional $10,000.

While the stay temporarily stopped the administration from actually clearing any debts, the White House has encouraged borrowers to continue applying for relief, saying the court order did not prevent applications or the review of applications.

Updated: November 11, 2022, 6:04 PM