Oklahoma students hope for Biden’s new loan plan after high court denies first effort


An NAACP member holds a sign outside of the Supreme Court during Friday’s protest. (Carolynn Felling/Gaylord News photo)

WASHINGTON – President Joe Biden pledged that the “fight was not over” after the US Supreme Court rejected his groundbreaking student loan forgiveness plan.

“When you say people, I say power,” … PEOPLE…POWER!,” was one of many chants that echoed outside of the Supreme Court on Friday from angry and disappointed protestors.

“I will stop at nothing,” said Biden while delivering his remarks at the White House and declaring his decision to find another path forward and execute the “promise”
He made to the American people.

“My Administration will continue to work to bring the promise of higher education to every American.”

Nearly 500,000 Oklahomans are among the 40 million people who owe $400 billion and face student loan debt payments resuming this October. Collectively, Oklahomans owe about $15 billion, according to WordsRated, an international research group that tracks U.S. student loan debt, making the state the 30th largest student loan debt in the U.S.

The Supreme Court determined that a President cannot make such a tremendous financial decision without congressional approval, which is not likely in the midst of a divided capitol.

The President’s plans curated chaos and lengthy debate amongst students and alumni across the country, offering some people relief but inflicting fear on others.

Carley Lankford, a recent graduate from the University of Oklahoma, said she feels reassured that she will not have to take on additional financial pressure by paying for higher taxes on top of her own debt.

“Now that I’ve entered the working world, it would be nice to have less debt, but I don’t want anyone else paying for my education,” she said. “ I think debt is part of ‘earning’ the degree, and I want to earn it.”

However, not everyone agreed with her.

Amber Poston, a 22-year-old senior at the University of Central Oklahoma, says, “it’s honestly quite frustrating,” Poston is working two jobs in an attempt to pay for her college education.

“As a college student, I have been using loans all throughout college, which I will be paying back for the good majority of my life after I am done with school. If this had passed, it would have taken a huge weight off my shoulders,” she said.

Poston says she is “discouraged,” and does not think anything will come from Biden’s new plan.

“It feels like everything that is supposed to benefit/help people is being denied,” she said. However, she hopes that she is among the 14 million to be approved for his new plan.

Oklahoma U.S. Rep. Kevin Hern (R, Tulsa) wrote “Forgiving student loans is not under the jurisdiction of the President of the United States,” in a press release.

Senator Marywayne Mullin (R, Westville) also agreed with the court’s ruling saying the plan was an “abuse of executive power,” and a “cheap” initiative that merely transfers the financial burden to millions of hard-working taxpayers.

But Biden, undeterred by GOP opposition, said he had directed the Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona to begin a process under the 1965 Higher Education Act to waive or release loans “under certain circumstances,” for the Americans eligible for student loan debt relief.

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez reminded those who opposed the bill of the President’s power, “It is very important to note this SCOTUS ruling does NOT remove Biden’s ability to pursue student loan forgiveness.”

In a press release Biden and his administration announced they have already finalized plans for “the most affordable repayment plan ever created.” The new plan guarantees that borrowers can take advantage of this option as early as this summer, or prior to their payment deadlines.

The rally outside of the capitol included a variety of protestors from different organizations who spoke at the event. Many of them reminded the crowd and media that Biden’s inability to keep his promises will impact how they vote in the coming 2024 election. Inflicting immense pressure on Biden’s administration to act and act quickly, if he intends to maintain his title of Potus.

D’Aungillique Jackson, a recent graduate of California State University, Fresno, who was among the protesters outside of the high court Friday morning summed up what many said they felt.

“I feel frustrated and I feel hurt. I feel like the Supreme Court has made a lot of decisions that impact people who look like me and it’s terrifying,” she said.

Gaylord News is a reporting project of the University of Oklahoma Gaylord College of Journalism and Mass Communication. For more stories by Gaylord News go to GaylordNews.net.