Student loan borrowers remain in limbo as court decides fate of forgiveness plan

Student loan borrowers remain in limbo as the Supreme Court decides the fate of President Joe Biden’s one-time forgiveness plan.

Andrea Kirk, who is getting her doctorate in biology at UNC Charlotte, is one of 44 million student loan borrowers anxious about the future of her loans and how they will affect her plans, such as buying a home.

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“The most nerve-wracking thing is if it goes the wrong way, you don’t want them to make the wrong decision,” Kirk said.

The Supreme Court will start hearing arguments next month about the student loan debt relief plan.

A decision is expected to come this summer and 60 days after that, repayments could begin.

“There is just so much uncertainty,” said Dr. Nicholas Hillman, a leading researcher in higher education access and affordability at the University of Wisconsin.

Hillman said the uncertainty is a greater burden on some borrowers and their financial future.

“We have huge inequality in the finance wealth gap,” Hillman said. “White families tend to have eight times more wealth than Black families, for example. That has a huge impact on who borrows, to begin with.”

Hillman said some of the hardest-hit Americans by student loan debt are those who never graduated.

So, they took out loans for an education they never completed.

“We can anticipate once the pause is lifted, people will go back into default within a year,” Hillman said.

The unknown could also impact the choice to pursue a degree.

Hillman said college enrollments have been steadily declining since 2008.

“We don’t know, in the research community, how much of that is because of student loan debt, but we do think there is a factor there that is connected to student loans,” Hillman said.

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