A federal appeals court temporarily blocked President Joe Biden's student loan relief program on Friday, but the Department of Education said it will still move "full speed ahead" on student debt cancellation.
Six Republican-led states filed suit against the Biden administration in September, accusing him of overstepping his authority, but the lawsuit was dismissed by a federal judge in Missouri last week for lack of standing. The states filed an appeal in federal court, where the stay was granted until the court could hear the case.
The Republican states accusing Biden of overstepping his authority have said a plan of this scale should have received congressional approval and, if currently implemented, will hurt state investment agencies and loan companies.
"Today's temporary decision does not stop the Biden Administration's efforts to provide borrowers the opportunity to apply for debt relief nor does it prevent us from reviewing the millions of applications we have received," said Department of Education Secretary Miguel Cardona in a tweet Friday.
Cardona said, in a video posted to Twitter, the Biden administration is "not deterred" by the "baseless" lawsuit, and will continue to prepare for student debt cancellation.
The Department of Education is encouraging borrowers to apply for debt forgiveness despite the temporary stay and promises to discharge the debt as soon as it is legally able.
Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich filed a separate lawsuit in the U.S. District Court of Arizona in September, arguing the president's use of the HEROES Act to cancel student debt was unjustified and unconstitutional. Brnovich has not commented on the administrative stay from the federal appeals court.
Another, separate lawsuit brought on behalf of a taxpayers' association was denied by Supreme Court Justice Amy Coney Barrett on Thursday. That suit argued that debt relief was an "improper racial motive" to lower the racial wealth gap and was dismissed for lack of standing.
According to a banner on the Department of Education's website, borrowers can still apply for student loan forgiveness, but applications cannot be processed until the stay from the federal court is lifted. The application opened Oct. 17, allowing borrowers to apply for up to $20,000 in federal student loan forgiveness.
In a tweet Friday, Biden said nearly 22 million borrowers have submitted applications for student debt forgiveness. About 887,100 Arizonans have student loan debt, according to the Education Data Initiative.
Edited by Piper Hansen, Wyatt Myskow and Luke Chatham.
Reagan Priest is a managing editor, overseeing and working with the six digital desks at The State Press. She previously worked as a social justice reporter for Cronkite News and as a digital production intern at The Arizona Republic.