Does a president have the power to cancel student debt?

Q. Can a President Just Give Up Student Debt?

A. Maybe, but it would likely be challenged and blocked in the courts.

The federal government operates three student loan programs. There is a direct loan program, the federal family education loan program, and the Perkins loans. All three are authorized by the Higher Education Act of 1965. According to the Congressional Research Service, as of last year, there are over $ 1.6 trillion in loans outstanding and over 43 million people have student debt. unpaid.

The issue of education debt waivers rose to prominence during the 2020 presidential campaign, but the idea predated that political race and had been raised by some consumer protection groups. Initially, the idea was to use the authority given to the Ministry of Education in the 1965 law to alleviate the debt of those victims of predatory for-profit private educational institutions that convinced people to take out debt. large loans for degrees they could not complete, or which did not generate the jobs needed to repay the loan.

However, the advocacy was later extended to cover all – or a significant portion – of everyone’s student debt. The Higher Education Act states that the Secretary of Education may “apply, pay, compromise, waive or release any right, title, claim, privilege or demand”. Some have argued that the provision is broad enough that the President can order all or even all of the student debt forgiven. This is the position that Senators Bernie Sanders (I-VT) and Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) took during the 2020 campaign.

Since the start of the pandemic, only a few students have been on the Palm Beach State College campus in Lake Worth Beach, Florida on April 14, 2021. GREG LOVETT / PALM BEACH POST

Indeed, the candidate at the time, Joe Biden, initially seemed to accept this proposal, but with a much more conservative approach. Biden advocated for the cancellation of up to $ 10,000 in debt for each individual. This was considerably less than the $ 50,000 per person proposed by Senator Warren, and much less than the simple waiver of all student debt, which Senator Sanders proposed. However, the issue seemed to be a matter of degree rather than authority.

Since taking office, President Biden has waived more than $ 1.5 billion in student debt for deceptive institutional practices. But the administration has not made a general pardon and it seems to weigh the legality of such actions. Despite the wording of the Higher Education Act (1965), there are concerns that general exemptions exceed the powers granted by law. The counter-argument against blanket cancellation is that Congress has given the secretary the power to modify or cancel loans on a case-by-case basis, focusing only on the borrower’s specific defenses.

Apart from the language of the higher education law, there is also the argument that by forgiving mass loans, the President is spending money that Congress has not authorized to make the law all at once. unconstitutional and in violation of the anti-disability law.

Interestingly, the Biden administration used its authority to suspend the accumulation of interest during the COVID-19 pandemic with little to no opposition. But in the end, the courts would likely have to decide whether a general pardon is allowed.

Kevin Wagner is a renowned constitutional scholar and professor of political science at Florida Atlantic University. The answers provided do not necessarily represent the views of the university. If you have a question about how the US government and politics work, email him at [email protected] or contact him on Twitter @kevinwagnerphd

Source link

About Ernest Decker

Check Also

Sale of Chelsea: Roman Abramovich denies wanting to repay the loan to the Blues when the club is sold | Soccer News

Roman Abramovich has denied wanting his £1.5billion loan from Chelsea repaid and has pledged to …