Federal judge dismisses challenge by 6 states to student loan forgiveness plan

ST. LOUIS — A federal judge on Thursday dismissed a challenge by six states to block the Biden administration’s student loan debt relief program.

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The decision by U.S. District Judge Henry Autrey in St. Louis came an hour after U.S. Supreme Court Justice Amy Coney Barrett rejected a request in Wisconsin to block the plan.

Autrey said that while Missouri, Nebraska, Arkansas, Iowa, Kansas and South Carolina had raised “important and significant challenges” to the plan, they lacked the necessary legal standing to pursue the case, according to The Associated Press.

Suzanne Gage, spokesperson for Nebraska Attorney General Doug Peterson, said the states will appeal the decision.

“The district court acknowledged in its opinion that the states ‘present important and significant challenges’ to the Biden administration’s student loan debt cancellation program,” Gage said in a statement. “While the court said that the states do not have standing to bring this lawsuit, the states continue to believe that they do in fact have standing to raise their important legal challenges.”

Earlier, Barrett denied without explanation an emergency request to delay the debt relief plan due to the challenge by the Brown County Taxpayers Association in Wisconsin.

Loan cancellations could begin as soon as Sunday, CNN reported. More than 8 million individuals submitted applications for the program last weekend through a beta test from the U.S. Department of Education, according to CNBC.

The debt relief plan began fully live and began accepting applications on Monday, according to the AP.

The Biden administration enacted the program that forgives $10,000 of federally funded student loan debt, $20,000 in Pell Grant loans, under the HEROES Act.

The act gave the executive branch authority to forgive student loan debt in association with military operations or national emergencies after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

The Congressional Budget Office has said the program will cost about $400 billion over the next three decades, the AP reported.