CSWE Condemns SCOTUS Student Loan Forgiveness Decision

Published on : July 19, 2023

CSWE Condemns SCOTUS Decision on the Biden Administration’s Student Loan Forgiveness Plan

The Council on Social Work Education (CSWE) denounces the recent Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) ruling striking down the ability of the Biden Administration to implement their student loan forgiveness plan. This plan would have erased $10,000 in federal student loans for all borrowers and $20,000 from student borrowers who were Pell Grant recipients. The Supreme Court decision deemed that by creating the student loan forgiveness plan, the Secretary of Education overstepped his ability under the HEROES Act to waive and modify regulatory authority when in a national emergency. Justice Elena Kagan puts it best in her dissent when she noted:
“In establishing the loan forgiveness plan, the current Secretary scratched the preexisting conditions for loan discharge, and specified different conditions, opening loan forgiveness to more borrowers. So he “waive[d]” and “modif[ied]” statutory and regulatory provisions and applied other “terms and conditions” in their stead."
The Court’s decision comes on the heels of the U.S. Department of Education’s (ED) plan to resume student loan interest on September 1, 2023, and restart payments in October 2023. The practical implications of the Court’s decision impact millions of vulnerable student borrowers who have been eagerly waiting relief from debt that continues to burden them, especially post-COVID-19. CSWE acknowledges that the student debt crisis is a racial and economic injustice that negatively impacts families and communities and calls on its membership and programs to continue to emphasize the importance of increasing student aid for institutions and students in critical programs that support schools of social work and social work students. To that end, CSWE will use its role in social work education and higher education to:
  • Support doubling the Pell Grant amount to ensure quality and accessible higher education.
  • Continue to call for increased support for minority-serving institutions.
  • Urge Congress and ED to address student loan debt through overhauling the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program to be more equitable and efficient for all student borrowers in public service.
Equitable access to higher education leads to a well educated and diverse workforce that ultimately sustains healthy families and communities. This decision should catalyze the higher education community to commit to fostering equity in accessing quality higher education. CSWE is committed to this endeavor and looks forward to working with its membership to continue to advocate for equitable and affordable access to higher education, especially social work education.