The Biden administration began notifying applicants who have been approved for student-loan relief.
The notifications came after the administration asked the Supreme Court to save its debt relief plan.
The lower court previously halted the program from taking effect.
One day after asking the Supreme Court to save its student-loan forgiveness plan, the Biden administration has started notifying some applicants they've been approved.
On Saturday, the Department of Education began sending emails to borrowers, alerting them of their debt relief approval, and also providing details about lawsuits that are delaying implementation of the program.
In an email reviewed by Insider, Education Secretary Miguel Cardona wrote: "We reviewed your application and determined that you are eligible for loan relief under the Plan. We have sent this approval on to your loan servicer. You do not need to take any further action."
Cardona added the administration believes the lawsuits are meritless and that the Department of Justice has made an appeal on the behalf of borrowers. "Your application is complete and approved, and we will discharge your approved debt if and when we prevail in court," Cardona wrote.
—Michael Stratford (@mstratford) November 19, 2022
On Friday, the Justice Department urged the Supreme Court to allow Biden's plan to move forward after the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals temporarily paused it from taking affect in October, and it ruled that the pause should remain in effect early last week. Biden's plan would forgive up to $20,000 in student debt for federal borrowers making under $125,000 a year.
The filing asked the Supreme Court to lift a ruling handed down Monday by an appeals court that continued the pause on the debt-relief program. The lawsuit was brought by six states run by Republicans who argued the administration is overstepping its executive powers and that they could suffer financial losses due to the loan-forgiveness plan.
According to the Biden administration, around 26 million people applied for student-loan relief and 16 million of those applications have been approved. After being suspended during the pandemic, payments on student loans are set to begin again in January.
Along with the ruling from the 8th Circuit, a federal judge in Texas ruled Biden's student-debt relief plan illegal and blocked its implementation on November 14, in response to a lawsuit filed by two student-loan borrowers who didn't qualify for the full $20,000 in debt cancellation.
Biden's administration remains confident that it will prevail in court, but it has not yet indicated to borrowers what relief, if any, it will provide should the courts ultimately rule that the student-loan forgiveness cannot be carried out. Given the uncertainty these legal proceedings are bringing, advocates and lawmakers are urging Biden to extend the student-loan payment pause until borrowers see a reduction to their debt balances.
The Education Department has even indicated that it is "examining all available options" to relieve borrowers, including through a payment pause extension, but uncertainty still looms as the Biden administration awaits a decision from the Supreme Court on whether its debt relief program will be revived.
The 8th Circuit's decision "leaves millions of economically vulnerable borrowers in limbo, uncertain about the size of their debt and unable to make financial decisions with an accurate understanding of their future repayment obligations," the Justice Department wrote in its appeal to the Supreme Court.
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