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What to do now that the Supreme Court struck down President Biden's student loan forgiveness program

Student loan debt
Posted at 6:21 PM, Jun 30, 2023

The Supreme Court's ruling Friday to strike down President Biden's student loan forgiveness program could have a significant impact in Cleveland.

According to Josh Rovenger, supervising attorney in the Economic Justice Group at the Legal Aid Society of Cleveland, about one in five Clevelanders is dealing with federal student loan debt.

Rovenger said there is about $2.6 billion in outstanding federal student loan debt in Cleveland and about 70,000 borrowers with an average debt of $38,000.

"We are really talking about the lower and working-class individuals who are being burdened by student debt," said Rovenger.

He said student load debt disproportionately affects people of color in Cleveland and nationally, and says people over 50 are the fastest-growing population with student loan debt load.

Earlier this year, the Legal Aid Society of Cleveland filed an amicus brief on behalf of more than 70 legal services and borrower advocacy organizations in support of Biden's debt cancellation policy.

Rovenger said they're now expecting a wave of borrowers who haven't made payments for three years due to the pandemic pause to fall back into delinquency and default. He said even before the pandemic, the student loan system was in crisis, with a new borrower defaulting every 26 seconds.

"It means the federal government can garnish wages without going to court, seize earned-income tax credits or social security retirement benefits without going to court," said Rovenger. "This really makes such a critical difference in their ability to have financial stability in their lives.
 
He said the most important thing for people to know is to be aware that repayment is starting again in October, and now is the time to start planning.

"The Department of Education is about to be releasing a new income-driven repayment plan that's supposed to be the most generous of all of those that are available for many borrowers, particularly my clients," he said. "They're eligible for $0 monthly payment, income-driven repayment plans. Just by signing up, they're eligible to keep their loans in good standing, even though they're not actually making any payments."

The Legal Aid Society is a great resource if you're worried about how you'll make your payments.

You can call Legal Aid’s Economic Justice Information Line for basic information or leave a voicemail and they'll get back to you:

-Call 216-861-5899 in Cuyahoga County

-Call 440-210-4532 in Ashtabula, Geauga, Lake and Lorain Counties

They also provide individual representation to student loan borrowers.

Another great resource in our community, said Rovenger, is College Now. They provide one-on-one advising services to borrowers to be able to figure out what their best repayment option looks like.

Visit their website here: https://collegenowgc.org/

Other helpful resources include:

https://protectborrowers.org/

https://www.cancelmystudentdebt.org/

https://www.nclc.org/

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