The Supreme Court heard oral arguments on Tuesday challenging the legality of President Biden’s student loan debt forgiveness plan, which was initially halted by the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals and struck down as unconstitutional by District Judge Mark Pittman last year.
If Biden’s plan is upheld by the Supreme Court, student loan borrowers could see up to $20,000 in debt forgiveness, which could cost taxpayers $400 billion over the next 30 years, according to the Congressional Budget Office.
“I would say I’m in favor of it,” Coachella, Calif., senior Eduardo Chavez said. “Everybody comes from different situations. I’m $100,000 in debt with school. For me, $20,000, that’s a whole year’s worth, so that’s gonna help me out.”
For many Americans, the debate over student loan forgiveness is a politically polarizing one. Democrats usually argue that student loan forgiveness will help relieve the financial burden on students; Republicans usually argue that it is unfair to use everyone’s tax dollars to fund the forgiveness of student loans that were willingly taken out in the first place.
Dr. Pat Flavin, Bob Bullock professor of political science, said the six conservative justices on the bench seemed skeptical of Biden’s plan and the legal authority of said plan. He said it was in serious jeopardy.
“Chief Justice Roberts seemed the most skeptical,” Flavin said. “He wondered why this decision was made without Congress. Justice Alito questioned whether it was fair if college borrowers got relief and those who didn’t attend college got nothing. It’s much more political than [initially] believed to be.”
Flavin said the court has to consider whether any harm has been done on states to rule against Biden’s plan. He said this will be another Supreme Court challenge to the executive branch and considering if the president has too much power.
Chavez said he would like to see Americans’ tax dollars go toward helping indebted college students as opposed to foreign wars, such as the United States’ continued aid to Ukraine in its war with Russia.
“I’d rather our tax dollars go toward something helpful like student debt than something like Ukraine,” Chavez said. “We’re spending more money going to Ukraine than we are helping our own people most of the time nowadays. For me, the government should always be to help the people.”
But not all students are convinced: Long Grove, Ill., freshman Montgomery Hashemi said he is skeptical about how student loan forgiveness would be paid for.
“The question that comes to my mind is if those loans are forgiven, then who is actually going to end up paying for the loans?” Hashemi said. “I feel like one person shouldn’t have the call for that.”
Hashemi also said there should be a bigger focus on what is causing higher education to become so expensive in the first place.
“But also the reason that students want forgiveness on the loans is because college expenses are so much,” Hashemi said. “Maybe the solution to the problem isn’t forgiving the loans but finding some way to reduce the cost of college to make it affordable to all parties within the United States.”
The Supreme Court could deliver an opinion any time, but is expected to hand down a final decision in June at the end of the court’s term.