TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — The Biden Administration released new data showing over one million people applied for federal student debt relief in Florida before the program was blocked by the courts last year.
The data comes one month before the Supreme Court is scheduled to hear oral arguments for two cases challenging the relief program. If allowed to move forward, the program would discharge up to $20,000 in student loan debt for borrowers earning less than $125,000 per year.
According to a release from the White House, 26 million people applied (or were automatically eligible) for one-time student debt relief in the month the application was available. Of those 26 million applications, 16 million were fully approved and sent to loan servicers before lawsuits prevented them from discharging any debt in Nov. 2022.
The White House said 1,598,000 Floridians applied for relief or were automatically eligible. 1,047,000 applications were approved and sent to loan servicers.
The Biden Administration claims over 40 million borrowers in the U.S. are eligible for the debt relief program, with over 90% earning less than $75,000 per year.
“Millions of those borrowers could be experiencing the benefits of that relief today – were it not for lawsuits brought on by elected officials in some of their own states,” the White House wrote.
Florida was among 17 states who filed a brief in support of Nebraska, Missouri, Arkansas, Iowa, Kansas and South Carolina in the Biden v. Nebraska Supreme Court case. The states claim the Biden administration’s plan is “unauthorized executive action.” Florida’s governor also criticized the debt relief plan while campaigning for reelection last year.
“You are going to end up in a situation where you could have a truck driver be on the hook for a Ph.D. student who graduated in something like gender studies or something like that,” Gov. Ron DeSantis said at a news conference in August.
The second case that ruled Biden’s program illegal – Department of Education v. Brown – came out of Texas. A district judge stated Biden does not have the power to create the debt relief program and the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the district ruling in November.
The Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in both cases next month, but borrowers shouldn’t expect a ruling until May or June.