There’s bad financial news for at least 1.3 million people in New England, including nearly 600,000 in Massachusetts, who were potentially going to get relief from their student loans.
The US Supreme Court struck down President Biden’s student loan forgiveness program in a decision that will affect millions of people nationwide.
Biden’s plan, which was suspended because of the legal challenges, would have erased up to $10,000 in federal student debt for individuals earning less than $125,000 a year and married couples earning less than $250,000 a year. The federal student loans of income-eligible individuals who received Pell grants would have been reduced by up to $20,000.
Estimates before the program was struck down said more than $400 billion in loans could have been forgiven.
Yes, that was billion with a “b.”
More than 40 million people nationwide were expected to be eligible, the Biden administration said. The US Census Bureau has estimated that the ambitious plan would have completely wiped out the loan balances of 29 percent of those with student debt.
In January, the White House said that 26 million people had applied in less than four weeks or were automatically eligible for relief, and more than 16 million of those applications had been fully approved.
That 26 million included 593,000 people in Massachusetts, 321,000 in Connecticut, 121,000 in New Hampshire, 116,000 in Maine, 96,000 in Rhode Island, and 52,000 in Vermont. The fully approved numbers were: Massachusetts, 380,000; Connecticut, 208,000; New Hampshire, 77,000; Rhode Island, 63,000; and Vermont, 33,000.
Legal analysts had expected the conservative Supreme Court to rule against the program, which is what came to pass Friday in the 6-3 decision. In oral arguments in February, justices questioned the administration’s authority to cancel the loans because of the COVID-19 emergency. Chief Justice John Roberts remarked that “most casual observers ... would think that’s something for Congress to act on.”
The following charts show what was at stake in the ruling:
Here is a map showing the burden of student loans across the country.
Here is a chart showing student loan balances by age group and the staggering increase in the total in recent years.
Here is a map showing the share of the adult population that would have had a loan forgiven in each state under the administration’s plan.
Here is a map estimating what would have been the average forgiveness per borrower in each state.
Here is a table showing the number of people in each state who applied or were deemed automatically eligible for loan forgiveness, and the number of those people who had their applications fully approved before the courts blocked the process.