What you need to know about Supreme Court hearing on student loan debt plan

Before the plan was paused, more than 600,000 Georgians had been approved for debt relief

The U.S. Supreme Court is expected to rule by June on two cases challenging the legality of President Joe Biden’s student loan debt forgiveness plan.

In August, Biden proposed canceling up to $20,000 in debt for some borrowers, depending on their income, but an appellate court halted the relief program. The Supreme Court heard arguments lasting more than three hours on Tuesday in the cases. Chief Justice John Roberts led his conservative colleagues in questioning the administration’s authority to broadly cancel federal student loans because of the COVID-19 emergency

In Georgia, the average borrower balance is $41,600, which is third nationally, according to federal statistics.

Here are five things to know about what’s happening:

Why is Biden trying to cancel some debt?

With the coronavirus pandemic, the Biden administration says canceling a portion of student loan debt is critical to avoid a surge in delinquencies and defaults. Nearly 1 in 10 Georgia borrowers in 2021 had past-due accounts greater than 90 days, according to some data.

What’s the dispute?

Republican officials in some states sued to stop the plan, arguing that Biden is overstepping his authority. The Biden administration insists that a law used by the Trump administration to pause student loan payments at the pandemic’s start also provides the authority to cancel education debt.

Do borrowers currently have to make payments?

Federal student loan payments have been on pause for most borrowers since March 2020. Biden has said payments would resume 60 days after the U.S. Department of Education was allowed to implement the debt relief program or the litigation was resolved.

When could the court rule?

Before it adjourns, usually by the end of June.

How many Georgians could be affected?

More than 1.6 million Georgians have some student loan debt. Slightly more than 1 million Georgians applied for debt relief before applications were shut down. An estimated 642,000 applications from Georgians were fully approved and sent to loan servicers for discharge.

Information from The Washington Post and The Associated Press was used in this article.