Federal Judges Block Biden’s Student Debt Relief Plan Amid GOP Challenges

Biden student debt relief, SAVE Plan, federal judges, Republican opposition, student loan forgiveness, Daniel Crabtree, John Ross, U.S. Department of Education, Missouri, Kansas, student loan repayment, income-based repayment plan, Higher Education Act

Federal judges in Kansas and Missouri have blocked President Biden’s student debt relief plan, known as the SAVE Plan, amid lawsuits from Republican-led states. The rulings halt the implementation of new repayment terms and loan forgiveness measures, raising significant questions about the future of student debt relief in the U.S. Learn more about the legal battles and their implications for millions of borrowers.

Federal Judges Block Biden's Student Debt Relief Plan Amid GOP Challenges
Federal Judges Block Biden’s Student Debt Relief Plan Amid GOP Challenges

Federal Judges Block Biden’s New Student Debt Relief Plan Amid Republican Opposition

In a significant legal development, two federal judges in Kansas and Missouri blocked the Biden administration’s efforts to implement a new student debt relief plan that aims to lower payments for borrowers. The rulings, influenced by lawsuits from several Republican-led states, put a halt to the administration’s Saving on a Valuable Education (SAVE) Plan and parts of a broader student loan repayment initiative.

The Legal Rulings

On Monday, U.S. District Judge Daniel Crabtree in Wichita, Kansas, blocked the U.S. Department of Education from implementing sections of the student loan repayment plan that were not already in effect. This plan includes provisions to reduce borrowers’ monthly payments and expedite debt forgiveness. Shortly after, U.S. District Judge John Ross in St. Louis, Missouri, issued a preliminary injunction preventing the department from granting further loan forgiveness under the SAVE Plan.

The SAVE Plan

The SAVE Plan, announced by President Joe Biden in 2022, offers more generous terms than previous income-based repayment plans. It reduces monthly payments for eligible borrowers and allows those with original principal balances of $12,000 or less to have their debt forgiven after ten years. The plan was intended to fully take effect on July 1, 2023, though parts of it had already been implemented. By mid-May, 414,000 borrowers had received $5.5 billion in debt relief under the plan, according to the Education Department.

Republican-Led Opposition

Missouri Attorney General Andrew Bailey, a leading figure in the litigation, celebrated the court decisions. Bailey argued that Congress never granted President Biden the authority to impose such significant financial burdens on working Americans. He and other Republican leaders maintain that the SAVE Plan represents an overreach of executive power.

The White House and the Education Department have yet to comment on the rulings. Biden’s broader $430 billion student debt relief program, which included cancelling up to $20,000 in debt for up to 43 million Americans, was previously blocked by the conservative-majority U.S. Supreme Court in June 2023.

Impact on Borrowers

The White House has claimed that over 20 million borrowers could benefit from the SAVE Plan. As of May, 8 million borrowers were already enrolled in the plan, including 4.6 million whose monthly payments had been reduced to $0. The administration argues that the plan is crucial for providing financial relief to millions of Americans burdened by student debt.

Legal Grounds for the Rulings

Judge Crabtree, who was appointed by Democratic former President Barack Obama, stated that the Republican-led states waited too long to sue over aspects of the SAVE Plan already in effect, thus failing to prove they were being irreparably harmed. However, he argued that the Higher Education Act of 1965 did not clearly authorize the type of “unprecedented and dramatic expansion” of income-based repayment plans envisioned by the SAVE Plan. He cited an estimate from the states’ lawyers suggesting that the plan would cost $475 billion over ten years.

Judge Ross, also an Obama appointee, concurred with Crabtree’s conclusions. He ruled that the Department of Education had overstepped its authority by including a loan forgiveness provision in the SAVE Plan.

Broader Implications

These rulings underscore the ongoing legal and political battles surrounding student debt relief in the United States. The decisions reflect deep partisan divisions over how to address the growing student debt crisis. For many Democrats, plans like SAVE are essential to provide necessary financial relief and economic mobility to millions of Americans. For many Republicans, such plans represent an overreach of executive power and an unjust transfer of financial responsibility to taxpayers.

Future of Student Debt Relief

The legal challenges against the SAVE Plan and other student debt relief initiatives indicate that the path forward for comprehensive student loan reform is fraught with obstacles. The Biden administration may need to seek alternative legislative avenues or revise its approach to meet legal requirements and withstand judicial scrutiny.


The blocking of the SAVE Plan by federal judges in Kansas and Missouri marks a significant setback for President Biden’s efforts to provide student debt relief. The legal battles reflect broader ideological conflicts over the role of government in addressing the student debt crisis. As the administration considers its next steps, the future of student debt relief remains uncertain, with millions of borrowers caught in the balance.

These developments highlight the complexities and challenges of implementing large-scale debt relief programs in a highly polarized political environment. As the courts continue to weigh in on these issues, the debate over student debt relief is likely to remain a contentious and pivotal aspect of American economic policy.

Read More

Leave a Comment