On What Authority? Top Republicans Press ED on Student Loan Actions

By Hugh T. Ferguson, NASFAA Senior Staff Reporter

The top Republican lawmakers on the House and Senate education committees are once again calling on Education Secretary Miguel Cardona to detail how the Department of Education (ED) is utilizing executive authority to go about implementing changes to the federal student loan portfolio.

In another letter from from Rep. Virginia Foxx (R-N.C.), ranking member of the House Education and Labor committee, and Sen. Richard Burr (R-N.C.), ranking member of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) committee, the pair lambasts ED’s unilateral actions on student loans.

“Today we award you an ‘F’ due to your dismissive failure to ensure student loans are administered and payments are collected in accordance with the law,” the letter reads. “The Department continues to pretend student loans will eventually go back into repayment when talking to Congress while simultaneously telling the country the repayment pause will remain until a decision is made on broad student loan forgiveness.”

The lawmakers allege that ED “does not care” about the limits of its executive authority, and take issue with President Joe Biden’s continuation of the payment pause and interest accrual on federal student loans.

In their letter, Foxx and Burr request that ED explain the legal authority being used to continue the pause as well as ED’s recent temporary waiver afforded to borrowers in the Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) program.

Foxx and Burr also tell ED that they expect the administration to attempt “more misguided and illegal student debt cancellation,” in the coming months, and are looking to challenge the White House’s attempted justification through executive legal authority.

Reports are now indicating that Biden could make a decision on student loan debt cancellation through executive authority later this summer, at which time the administration will need to provide clarity on the ongoing moratorium, slated to expire at the end of August.

The letter from Foxx and Burr requests that ED provide details concerning 14 instances of executive action taken during Biden’s term that have made changes to the student loan portfolio by June 22.


Publication Date: 6/16/2022

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