A judge in a U.S. District Court in Texas blocked President Joe Biden's student loan relief program on Nov. 10, prompting frustration from students and alumni who were looking forward to debt forgiveness.
The judge argued that the president did not have authority under the HEROES Act to cancel student debt, calling the move "unconstitutional." The Biden administration has already filed an appeal.
Arizona State Senator Juan Mendez said the news has made him and his family reconsider finances, as he was hoping to have the majority of his student loans from his graduate degree at ASU forgiven.
"Me and my wife were looking at our finances and trying to decide what was possible," Mendez said. "Now we're gonna start all over again with our finances to figure out how we can make this work because, without this forgiveness, my payment is going to be pretty ridiculous."
Mendez said his loans from his undergraduate degree at ASU were forgiven under the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program, which allows graduates working in government or nonprofit organizations to receive reduced payments and eventual forgiveness. Mendez said he recommends it to any students planning to work in the public sector after graduation.
"I'm 37 and I just got my undergrad student loans forgiven this year," he said. "It totally warped my whole trajectory. I just had a baby this year, I put off so many things, I just bought a house last year, like so many things were in the way."
Sarah Nelson, a sophomore studying public service and public policy, said she wouldn't be impacted by student loan forgiveness, but still wants to see it for other students who need it.
"I don't think that we should punish other people or leave other people behind because we were able to not be in the same position," Nelson said. "The only reason I don't have loans is just because I got that scholarship for in-state students. It can very easily be me who needs that loan forgiveness."
In a tweet, Department of Education Secretary Miguel Cardona said he believes the student debt forgiveness program is lawful and will continue to fight to reinstate it.
"Separately, we remain committed to taking other actions to fix longstanding issues in the student loan forgiveness system and hold schools accountable for leaving students with mountains of debt and without the skills and preparation to find good jobs," Cardona said in a separate tweet.
Currently, the application for student loan forgiveness has been removed from the Department of Education website, and the site says it is "no longer taking applications."
In a statement released Nov. 10, White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said 16 million of the 26 million applications submitted for loan forgiveness were already approved for relief.
"The Department will hold onto their information so it can quickly process their relief once we prevail in court," Jean-Pierre said in her statement.
In the meantime, Nelson said she hopes the president uses other avenues to improve student borrowing and the education system in general.
"There's a lot that you can do on the administrative side or the bureaucratic side that don't require Congressional approval," she said.
Mendez wants students to remain hopeful, even if it may take a while for the program to be reinstated in court.
"Now that we have even a little bit, we have to just keep pushing for more," Mendez said. "A year ago, I would have told you that $10,000 of student loan forgiveness was impossible. But now that President Biden is willing to stand on his potential authority and use it for good, we have to get up beside him to make sure that we don't get shortchanged."
Edited by Wyatt Myskow, David Rodish and Greta Forslund.
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.