Joe Biden’s New Debt Forgiveness Plan, Explained

Wisdom Cole with the NAACP leads student debt relief activists in a chant in front of the White House after the U.S. Supreme Court struck down President Joe Biden's student debt relief program on June 30, 2023. (Photo by Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images)

The Biden administration isn’t giving up on finding a way to forgive potentially hundreds of billions of dollars in student loans to tens of millions of Americans. 

The Supreme Court’s recent ruling in Biden v. Nebraska means the president has no authority under the Higher Education Relief Opportunities for Students Act of 2003 (HEROES) Act to forgive more than $400 billion of student loan debt. But immediately after the ruling President Joe Biden announced he will now pursue the same goal using the Higher Education Act of 1965 (HEA).

What is the Higher Education Act?

President Lyndon Johnson signed the HEA to increase access to higher education in a job market that increasingly required college degrees. It authorized several federal funding programs dedicated to expanding the quality and affordability of higher education through student loans, scholarships, and grants, including the Pell Grant, which aids undergraduate students with “exceptional financial need.”

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