'It's personal': Elizabeth Warren says President Biden has the 'legal authority' to cancel student loan debt — and she's calling for action right now. But will it actually happen?

As millions of borrowers anxiously await the Supreme Court’s decision on Biden’s student loan forgiveness plan this week, one U.S. senator believes the path forward is already obvious.

"Let me be very clear, President Biden has the legal authority to cancel student-loan debt," Massachusetts Democratic senator Elizabeth Warren declared in a webinar held by several advocacy groups.

Don't miss

When the president announced his plan to forgive up to $20,000 in federal student loan debt last summer, six Republican-led states challenged its validity. Borrowers have since been suspended in uncertainty for months — but are now expected to resume payments in October of this year once forbearance ends.

But Warren says the opposition’s claims are unfounded.

"If the Supreme Court follows the law instead of playing politics, they will make clear that the Republican attempt to stop student-loan debt relief is baseless, and that that relief will go forward immediately,” she said.

Why student loan forgiveness has been on the rocks

There are 40 million student borrowers across the U.S. who owe a staggering $1.6 trillion in outstanding loans and could potentially benefit from the Supreme Court’s decision this week.

The costs of attending a postsecondary institution are far higher than what they used to be — thanks to factors such as rising demand and reduced state funding — and that’s without adding inflation to the mix.

"A young person can pay up to 200% more in tuition than what her parents paid when they went to college, and that's just fundamentally wrong," Warren emphasizes.

The Biden administration implemented the Health and Economic Recovery Omnibus Emergency Solutions (HEROES) act, arguing that the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on borrowers warranted forgiveness in order to prevent a record rise in delinquencies and defaults.

Its plan is to forgive up to $20,000 for Pell grant recipients and up to $10,000 for those who didn’t receive the grant — assuming these borrowers earn less than $125,000 ($250,000 for married couples) a year.

Read more: 3 big mistakes people make with cash back credit cards that cost them every time they swipe

But the states who’ve sued the administration (Nebraska, Missouri, Arkansas, Iowa, Kansas and South Carolina) say this is illegal, and that the policy doesn’t benefit everyone. They add forgiveness could impact lenders who profit from the now-defunct Federal Family Education Loan (FFEL) program and even harm Missouri's state coffers.

The court is ruling over whether the parties have the right to sue and whether the Biden administration overstepped its executive authority in issuing the policy in the first place.

Warren says this fight is ‘personal’

Warren has long advocated for student loan forgiveness and she’s now calling for immediate action.

"I've been in this fight for a long time and part of the reason is because it's personal," Warren says, explaining she was the first person in her family to get a college degree because she went to a commuter school that cost $50 a semester.

"I then went to a public law school where I got a great education and I was able to do this because I grew up at a time in America when our country was investing in me and in our future," Warren adds.

"That opportunity is just not out there today.”

What to read next

This article provides information only and should not be construed as advice. It is provided without warranty of any kind.