February 28, 2023 — Press Release

Arguments are scheduled to begin at 10am and audio will be streamed here: https://www.supremecourt.gov/oral_arguments/live.aspx

WASHINGTON — Student loan law experts from the National Consumer Law Center will be at the U.S. Supreme Court this morning to observe oral arguments in two cases seeking to strike down President Biden’s student debt cancellation plan and to attend the “People’s Rally in Support of Student Debt Cancellation” outside the Court. 

“The Biden Administration promised much-needed student debt relief, and 26 million people have already applied for it. If the Supreme Court pulls the rug out from under them, it will be devastating to these borrowers and their families,” said Abby Shafroth, staff attorney at the National Consumer Law Center and Director of its Student Loan Borrower Assistance Project. “Resuming payments without debt relief would cause loan delinquencies and defaults to spike among the millions of people still recovering from the economic fallout of the pandemic. The Administration’s use of its authority under the HEROES Act to provide debt relief as borrowers transition back into repayment following the pandemic is both lawful and vital.” 

Shafroth will attend the oral arguments in the cases, Biden v. Nebraska and Department of Education v. Brown, and will participate in a press conference, coordinated by Student Borrower Protection Center, approximately 10 minutes after arguments end. During the arguments, NCLC student loan attorneys Kyra Taylor, Alpha Taylor, and Anna Anderson will be available to speak to the press at the “People’s Rally for Student Debt Cancellation” in front of the Court.

“The record in both of these cases clearly demonstrates that the borrowers who would receive relief under the Administration’s plan suffered financially during the pandemic, will be financially destabilized by their loan payments, and are at a heightened risk for default once federal student loan repayments resume,” said Kyra Taylor, staff attorney at the National Consumer Law Center. “Default is a financial disaster for student loan borrowers because it makes the full loan balance due immediately, damages borrowers’ credit, and allows the government to seize the borrower’s tax refund and a big portion of their wages, social security, or other federal benefits. The Court should reject efforts to interfere with this critical relief; relief that Congress authorized and the Secretary of Education deemed necessary.”

“The pandemic has had a devastating economic impact on working and middle-class families,” said Alpha Taylor, staff attorney at the National Consumer Law Center. “Though the economy is making a comeback, working class families are struggling to catch up to where they were before the pandemic. Debt relief is necessary to ensure that lower-income borrowers, particularly lower-income borrowers of color–who have suffered disproportionately due to the pandemic and also carry a disproportionate share of our nation’s student debt–are not placed in a worse financial position coming out of the pandemic.”

Before the Court can even reach the substantive question of whether the HEROES Act authorizes the debt relief plan, it must determine whether the borrowers and states suing to stop debt relief have standing to invoke the Court’s authority to intervene. 

“If the Court accepts the borrowers’ and states’ standing arguments here, that would mark an extraordinary expansion of standing doctrine–and therefore of the Court’s power,” said Shafroth. “The argument for standing advanced in the suit on behalf of two borrowers is baldly disingenuous: they claim standing on the basis that they were denied a procedural opportunity to argue that the plan should provide them more debt relief, but that claim is entirely inconsistent with their core argument that the Secretary lacks authority to provide any relief at all.” 

Similarly, the six states challenging cancellation have tenuous standing claims. “Student loan cancellation doesn’t harm anyone and would help many of these states’ low-income residents,” said Anna Anderson, staff attorney at the National Consumer Law Center. “The states don’t have standing because they aren’t directly impacted by the plan. The states are suing because they are ideologically opposed to the debt relief plan, but under the Constitution these sorts of policy disagreements are not to be resolved by the courts, but rather by our elected officials.” 

Related Resources


Since 1969, the nonprofit National Consumer Law Center® (NCLC®) has worked for economic justice for low-income and other disadvantaged people in the U.S. through policy analysis and advocacy, publications, litigation, and training. The NCLC’s Student Loan Borrower Assistance Project provides information about student loan rights and responsibilities for borrowers and advocates. We also seek to increase public understanding of student lending issues and to identify policy solutions to promote access to education, lessen student debt burdens, and make loan repayment more manageable.

Support NCLC

Please support NCLC's work to advance consumer rights and economic justice with a tax-deductible contribution today!