June 30, 2023
Lauren Grimaldi, Communications Associate
CHICAGO, IL– In another blow for equity advocates, today in Biden v. Nebraska the Supreme Court struck down the student debt forgiveness program proposed by the Biden Administration last year.
Executive Director Lisa Castillo Richmond of the Partnership for College Completion released the following statement:
“The decision by the Supreme Court to strike down the plan to forgive some student loan debt is deeply disappointing. Under this plan, 90 percent of the debt relief would have gone to borrowers earning less than $70,000 a year– many of them first-generation college students who grew up in low-income households. Today, 1.5 million Illinoisans, the majority of whom received Pell grants in college, were denied $23.5 billion in debt relief. This was going to be one important step, among many that are needed, to ease the burden of the student debt crisis and would have been crucial to the financial futures of so many.
As advocates and legislators have pointed out, this does not have to be the end of the road – we join them in urging the Biden Administration to explore all avenues toward enacting student loan relief, as it is essential to setting borrowers down a path to better stability. In addition to PCC’s disappointment over this decision, we know that it would not have addressed the ongoing affordability crisis that has pushed millions of students from low-income backgrounds to borrow large amounts of money that also carry significant interest payments.
In Illinois, PCC is working to transform the untenable system that caused this debt crisis so that affordability is no longer a barrier for students seeking a college degree and the associated economic benefits it offers. This will include investments at the state and federal level to increase the purchasing power of MAP and Pell grants, as well as significant reinvestment in our public colleges and universities after two decades during which our state appropriation to higher education was cut in half. In this regard, there is cause for optimism. The Pritzker Administration and Illinois legislature have increased investment in MAP and appropriations to higher education by $279 million compared to the last fiscal year.
Additionally, the outcome of the Commission on Equitable Public University Funding will be crucial to determining a system by which access and affordability in higher education increases. As a member of the Commission and a passionate advocate for equity in college access, PCC, along with many other fervent individuals and organizations across the state will continue to advocate for bold policies and action to ensure our students are able to access the education they deserve and thrive on any college campus, without saddling them with debt for decades to come.
PCC released an analysis of the student debt forgiveness plan when it was originally announced in August 2022. As the Partnership continues to work with and off the Commission to ensure a more equitable funding formula, we will continue to communicate around the eventual recommendation and the path forward to a higher education system that is equitably and sufficiently funded, and that works for every student in Illinois.