Chicago college students worry after Supreme Court strikes down Biden's loan forgiveness plan

Professor says blanket student loan forgiveness is less effective than helping people who need it most

Sarah Schulte Image
Saturday, July 1, 2023
Chicago students worry after SCOTUS strikes down loan forgiveness plan
Joe Biden argued that the HEROES Act gave him the authority to forgive student loans, but a Supreme Court ruling struck down his plan.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- A Supreme Court decision on Friday will mean borrowers will have to pay back their loans.

However, President Joe Biden announced his administration plans to create 12-month repayment program where students who miss their payments will not get referred to credit agencies for 12 months.

The Supreme Court decision was heavily criticized on college campuses.

SEE ALSO | How Supreme Court student loans decision affects you

Destiny Colyer and Adriana Johnson are attending UIC's freshmen orientation. The best friends from Chicago can't wait to start college soon, but paying for it is challenge.

"Loans, grants, scholarships, anything that is going to help," Johnson said.

WATCH: Law professor breaks down latest SCOTUS rulings

UIC Law Professor Steven Schwinn talked about the Supreme Court rulings on LGBTQ+ rights, free speech and Biden's student loan forgiveness plan.

Colyer has dreams of becoming a dentist, but she is already worried about paying back student loans.

"Very concerned, very concerned because I know, right, when you graduate, it's going to be a full thing of payments. It makes me nervous a lot," Colyer said.

According to Brandeis University research, Black borrowers, on average, still owe 95% of their original loans 20 years after applying for it. The analysis was noted by Biden when he rolled out his $400 billion relief plan, one that would have helped 20 million borrowers until the U.S. Supreme Court struck it down. The decision did not come as a surprise to observers.

"We knew from the oral arguments that the court's conservative majority was extremely skeptical of the arguments that the executive branch can unilaterally issue loan forgiveness," said Constantine Yannelis, a professor with the University of Chicago Booth School of Business.

The Biden administration argued the president has the authority to forgive student loans under the HEROES Act of 2003. With a 6-3 decision, the conservative majority disagreed. Yannelis says blanket student loan forgiveness is less effective than helping people who need it the most.

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"My work has shown most of the dollars from federal loan forgiveness would go to upper middle class and upper-income individuals," Yannelis said.

For twins Elijah and Isaiah Smith, their goal is to avoid taking out any loans while they attend UIC.

"Obviously, no one wants to be in debt after college. That is something we are trying to figure out. That is why we are constantly looking at scholarships and stuff," Elijah said.

The Biden administration has also been working on an income-driven payment plan that would allow lower-salary earners to make lower or no payments. With his reelection campaign coming up, Biden is determined to offer some type of relief.