On June 30, 2023, the U.S. Supreme Court struck down critical student debt relief from 40 million borrowers by ruling in favor of state officials in Biden v. Nebraska, formally blocking President Biden’s plan to use emergency powers to cancel up to $20,000 for student loan borrowers in the wake of the COVID-19 emergency.
In a statement on the matter, Treasurer José Cisneros said, “I am disappointed in today’s Supreme Court decision invalidating the Biden administration’s student loan forgiveness plan. We cannot accept a return to the failed status quo, where student loan debt accelerates the racial wealth gap and disrupts the financial success of low-income borrows throughout their life. We must continue to work collectively to provide relief for struggling student loan borrowers and strive for a future where higher education is affordable for all.”
As a nation, 44 million individuals hold more than $1.6 trillion in student debt, including approximately 735,000 student loan borrowers in the Bay Area alone. Nearly one in seven adults in San Francisco have student loan debt. In 2019, the Office of Financial Empowerment partnered with the Federal Reserve Bank of SF to coauthor a report taking a deeper local look at the communities struggling most with student loan debt and repayment. The report found that the most distressed borrowers were in low-income neighborhoods with high percentages of Black and Hispanic residents.
While the case was under consideration, the city of San Francisco also joined the fight, signing on with Public Rights Project and a group of 40 cities and counties across the country to make the case for student debt relief before the Supreme Court in an amicus brief.