Alex Ruther is an opinion columnist for Mustang News and journalism senior. The views expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect those of Mustang News.

When I submitted my federal student loan forgiveness application in October 2022 I was hopeful yet hesitant. I wasn’t sure if I would qualify out of the millions of other Americans who also borrowed federal loans. But a month later when I received an email stating that I qualified, I was ecstatic at the possibility of having some of my federal loans forgiven. 

Growing up, I was told by my parents and teachers that I needed to go to college to get a degree and a career, and then I would live a successful and happy life — but the part they forgot to include was the thousands of dollars of debt that would follow me with my career and life out of college. 

My parents didn’t have the money to pay out of pocket to send me to college and I didn’t grow up with a “college fund” either, so I had to pay for my whole college education through federal loans, grants and scholarships.

On Tuesday, Feb. 28 the Supreme Court held the oral arguments for the Student Loan Relief Plan. The plan would forgive up to $20,000 for qualified federal student loan borrowers if approved by the Supreme Court. 

The Student Loan Forgiveness Plan needs to be approved by the Supreme Court, because this plan could help millions of current and past students who are struggling to pay off their student debts while trying to afford the cost of living in a time of inflation. 

Biden has been able to create this program through the Higher Education Relief Opportunities for Students (HEROES) Act of 2003, which was passed to help alleviate the hardships student loan borrowers could face in times of national emergencies. 

In 2020 the Secretary invoked their authority to waive or modify the student loans program in response to the COVID-19 pandemic by waiving the repayment obligation through the HEROES Act. 

Through the use of the HEROES Act, on Aug. 24, 2022 President Biden announced the Student Loan Relief Plan which would assist low-to-middle income student borrowers to be able to afford college educations by reducing or eliminating up to $20,000 of debt. 

The Supreme Court agreed to review the Student Relief Plan after two separate lawsuits were filed in the lower courts shortly after the plan was announced. The first lawsuit included six states that are against the program, and the second suit was brought by two students, one who was found ineligible and another who didn’t receive the full $20,000 of debt relief. 

According to the Education Data Initiative, as of 2023, “the average public university student borrows $31,410 to attain a bachelor’s degree,” and “the average federal loan debt balance is $37,574.”

The thought of graduating college with less debt than I anticipated felt relieving and exciting. As a college student with five years of student debt I was stressed about how long I would be paying my loans off after graduating, even with working a career that offered a salary.

Most entry-level careers require at minimum a bachelor’s degree while some even recommend higher degrees of education, which leaves some college students with no other financial alternative but to borrow student loans in order to obtain the necessary degrees for a successful future. 

The catch is once a student earns the degrees and obtains a career they are left with thousands of dollars in student debt while trying to afford housing, medical, groceries and other essential living costs at the same time. 

Due to the cost of living being raised in 2023, most durable goods, energy products, and food prices will be increased by 8.7%, causing most people who can barely afford goods such as groceries and gas currently to continue to struggle. 

Because of the current political make-up of the Supreme Court, many people believe that the court will rule against the relief plan. I hope otherwise, because this plan would benefit millions of Americans young and old. 

Currently the program has been put on hold until the Supreme Court makes their decision hopefully later this year, but if the Supreme Court doesn’t come to a resolution by June 30, 2023 federal student loan borrowers will resume loan repayments 60 days after that date. 

If the Supreme Court approves this program later this year they could help alleviate at least 40 million Americans’ student debts across the United States if approved, and allow them to focus their finances on the current issue of affording to live in America.