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Press Release

Supreme Court fails borrowers in student debt ruling

America’s largest labor union decries Biden v. Nebraska
Published: June 30, 2023

WASHINGTON — In a decision that undermines the future of countless Americans burdened by crushing student loan debt, the Supreme Court, in a deeply disappointing move, struck down the Biden administration’s Student Debt Relief Plan in the case of Biden v. Nebraska. The plan was a crucial and compassionate initiative aimed at addressing the ballooning crisis of student loan debt that has plagued our nation for far too long. It was a beacon of hope for those struggling to make ends meet, limited in their career choices, and crushed by the weight of exorbitant and exponential student loan debt.


“The court’s decision in Biden v. Nebraska reflects a failure to recognize the realities faced by student loan borrowers today. Student debt has reached astronomical levels, hindering the economic progress of individuals, families, and our nation as a whole,” said Becky Pringle, president of the 3-million-member National Education Association. “The student debt relief plan was meticulously crafted to provide relief to those who need it the most, such as low-income borrowers, veterans, and public servants who have dedicated their lives to serving their communities. The court’s ruling not only fails these deserving individuals but also undermines the president’s authority to take decisive action in addressing critical issues affecting the American people.”


Student loan debt has reached an unprecedented $1.7 trillion, and the burden falls disproportionately on communities of color and marginalized groups. This ruling perpetuates systemic injustices and widens the already existing wealth gap.


The Supreme Court’s decision further exacerbates the existing inequalities in our education system. It perpetuates the notion that access to quality education should be determined by one’s financial background rather than their abilities or aspirations. By striking down the Biden student debt relief plan, the court has effectively denied millions of aspiring students and borrowers the opportunity for a brighter future and hindered our nation’s collective progress.


NEA will not stop until everyone is able to learn and grow without the lifelong burden of student debt. It is imperative that we work towards a more fair and more equitable system, one that enables every American to pursue their dreams. We cannot afford to let the Supreme Court’s ruling stifle progress and limit the potential of an entire generation. And to our educators, Public Service Loan Forgiveness is still here for you, and the NEA will continue to assist all educators in accessing this promise that is owed to you.


In 2021, NEA released a report on educators working in pre-K–12 and higher education institutions regarding student loan debt. It is the first research of its kind with new insights into the physical, mental, and financial health of educators. In line with research on student loan debt within the general population, the study found that student loans play a significant role in the financial lives of many educators and have disproportionate impacts on specific subgroups.


Important findings within the report include:


  • About three-fifths (59%) of educators with unpaid loans reported that the debt had a bearing on their ability to build up their emergency savings, and four in 10 said that paying off their student loans impacted their mental, emotional, and/or physical well-being. 


  • Black educators took on significantly more debt than other racial/ethnic groups, with an average initial total of $68,300 among those who took out loans, compared to $54,300 for White educators and $56,400 for Latin(o/a/x), Hispanic, and Chican(o/a/x) educators. About 16% of Black educators who used student loans borrowed $105,000 or more compared to 11% of White educators.


  • Black educators with unpaid student loans also had the highest average current debt at $71,600, over $13,000 more than White educators and $20,000 more than Latin(o/a/x), Hispanic, and Chican(o/a/x) educators. This high average is partly due to nearly one in five Black educators with unpaid debt carrying a current balance of at least $105,000. 


  • Over a quarter of educators ages 61 and up who took out student loans still have a balance; within that group, more than a third have $45,000 or more left to pay off.


  • Two-thirds of educators ages 61 and up with unpaid student loans report that paying down their debt has affected their ability to save for retirement. Even half of the youngest educators — those ages 18–35 — said this was a predicament for them.


NEA is making principals and experts on student debt available for interviews. Requests can be sent to Richard Allen Smith, NEA Communications, at [email protected].







National Education Association

Great public schools for every student

The National Education Association (NEA), the nation's largest professional employee organization, is committed to advancing the cause of public education. NEA's 3 million members work at every level of education—from pre-school to university graduate programs. NEA has affiliate organizations in every state and in more than 14,000 communities across the United States.