Student loan relief application paused after judge blocks program

The Education Department has closed its application for student loan forgiveness after a federal judge on Thursday blocked the program, multiple outlets reported Friday.

"Courts have issued orders blocking our student debt relief program," read a note on the government's aid website, per CNBC. "As a result, at this time, we are not accepting applications." The applications of those who have already applied will be held.

On Thursday, U.S. District Court Judge Mark Pittman ruled President Biden had overstepped in his creation of the program and infringed on congressional powers. "In this country, we are not ruled by an all-powerful executive with a pen and a phone," Pittman wrote in his ruling. "The court is not blind to the current political division in our country. But it is fundamental to the survival of our Republic that the separation of powers as outlined in our Constitution be preserved." The Biden administration is appealing Pittman's decision.

Roughly 26 million Americans have applied for student debt relief, and the Education Department has "already approved requests from 16 million," Reuters writes, noting it's possible for the case to end up before the Supreme Court.

The conservative group that brought the complaint — the Job Creators Network Foundation — has called Biden's program "irrational, arbitrary and unfair," and claimed the administration eschewed normal practice by not first seeking public comment.

The White House "strongly" believes its relief plan is "lawful and necessary," and is "not standing down" amid legal challenges, Education Secretary Miguel Cardona said in a Friday statement.

Thursday ruling aside, the forgiveness program was already on pause following a lawsuit from six Republican-led states.

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