Frank Garrison, a resident of Indiana, Tuesday sued the US Department of Education claiming the recent student debt forgiveness is unlawful. On August 24, the Biden administration announced that it would forgive between $10,000 and $20,000 in federal student loans for over 40 million borrowers. Garrison claims the forgiveness would create tax liabilities which make the residents of six states, including Indiana, worse off.
Garrison claims the Department of Education–which is administering the loan forgiveness–did not issue a formal rule or have a notice-and-comment period for the loan cancellation. Nor does it allegedly have authority under the HEROES Act, an emergency authorization bill passed in 2020 in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The act allows student loan cancellation that is necessary as a direct result of a national emergency.
Garrison claims, “The putative harms targeted by the cancellation are not a ‘direct result’ of the ‘national emergency’ surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic, as student loan borrowers are not directly ‘affected individuals’ who ‘suffered direct economic hardship as a direct result of a war or other military operation or national emergency.'”
Additionally, Garrison drew attention to the fact that people who already have their income information stored with the department will have the loan forgiveness applied automatically to their accounts. For those who do not, an application will have to be submitted for forgiveness. Garrison claims his forgiveness will be applied automatically. Thus, he demands an injunction because his “overall debt burden increases as a result of the Department’s debt cancellation program.”