Arizona AG Brnovich, other GOP states sue Biden administration over student debt forgiveness

Attorney General Mark Brnovich joined other Republican states and sued the Biden administration over its plan to forgive student loan debt.
Published: Sep. 30, 2022 at 8:16 PM MST
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PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5/CNN) - Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich and Republican-led states are suing President Joe Biden over his student loan forgiveness program. Brnovich filed the legal action on Thursday, calling the plan “unfair” and saying it’s “illegal” for the president to do it without approval from Congress. Despite the attempts by states to block it, the Department of Education is moving forward and preparing to accept applications from borrowers.

The program would forgive up to $10,000 in student debt for those earning less than $125,000 per year and up to $20,000 for Pell Grant recipients. The Biden administration is relying on the Heroes Act, which was enacted in the wake of the September 11 terrorist attacks, claiming it allows the White House to take executive actions during a national emergency. Republicans aren’t buying it. “But President Biden is using this law to justify this forgiveness program with COVID being the national emergency. Perhaps President Biden has simply forgotten that he declared the COVID pandemic over,” said Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge.

The Department of Education is still working to release the application for borrowers next month. “There are a lot of lawsuits flying, but the administration is going forward. And so borrowers should get ready to apply for this relief,” said Persis Yu with the Student Borrower Protection Center. But the Biden administration scaled back eligibility for its student loan forgiveness plan Thursday. Borrowers whose federal student loans are guaranteed by the government but held by private lenders will now be excluded from receiving debt relief. Around 770,000 people will be affected by the change, according to an administration official.

Borrowers with privately held federal student loans represent a small portion of the 43 million federal student loan borrowers. There are about 4 million borrowers with Federal Family Education Loans, but not all of those people are likely eligible for the loan forgiveness plan, which also includes an income requirement.

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