A federal appeals court has temporarily suspended President Joe Biden’s student loan forgiveness program, preventing the administration from canceling loans covered by the policy, while the court considers challenging it.
The order from the 8th US Circuit Court of Appeals comes in a case brought by six Republican-led states seeking a preliminary injunction to end the policy after a district court dismissed the case earlier this week . The effort is separate from a Wisconsin taxpayer group’s challenge to the program that was recently rejected by the Supreme Court.
The appeals court gave the administration until Monday to respond to the states’ request, and the states will have until Tuesday to respond to that response. The states had asked the appeals court to act before Sunday, the earliest date the Biden administration announced it would grant student loan discharges.
In response to the pause, White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre encouraged borrowers to seek relief, saying the administration would “continue to move full speed ahead with our preparations pursuant to this order.” and to fight against Republican legal efforts. in the program.
“Tonight’s temporary order does not prevent borrowers from applying for student debt relief on studentaid.gov – and we encourage eligible borrowers to join the nearly 22 million Americans whose Department of Education already has information, but it doesn’t stop us from reviewing those applications and preparing them for passing on to loan managers.”
The lawsuit, which was filed last month, was dismissed on October 20 by a lower court judge who ruled that the plaintiffs lacked legal standing to contest.
In another win for Biden on the same day, Supreme Court Justice Amy Coney Barrett declined to send the Wisconsin Taxpayers’ group’s challenge to the full court.
The Biden administration also faces lawsuits from Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich and conservative groups such as the Job Creators Network Foundation and the Cato Institute.
Numerous legal challenges claim the Biden administration lacks the legal authority to write off student loan debt broadly.
Government lawyers argue that Congress gave the Secretary of Education the power to discharge his debt in a 2003 law known as the HEROES Act.
Biden’s student loan forgiveness program, first announced in August, aims to provide debt relief for millions of borrowers before federal student loan repayments resume in January after a nearly three-year pause related to the pandemic.
Under Biden’s plan, eligible individual borrowers who earned less than $125,000 in 2020 or 2021 and married couples or heads of households who earned less than $250,000 a year in those years will see up to to $10,000 of their canceled federal student loan debt.
If an eligible borrower also received a Federal Pell Grant while enrolled in college, they are eligible for debt forgiveness of up to $20,000.
This story was updated with additional details on Friday.