Student essay asks if anyone would have standing to sue in federal court to challenge student loan cancellation

by Jeff Sovern

Jack Hoover, a 3L at Virginia, has written Standing and Student Loan Cancellation, 108 Va. L. Rev. Online (Forthcoming 2022).

Here's the abstract:

As the public policy debate over broad student loan cancellation continues, many have questioned whether the Executive branch has the legal authority to waive the federal government’s claim to up to $1.6 trillion in debt. Some have argued that loan nullification would prompt a years-long battle in the courts. However, commentators and policymakers should not assume that federal courts would have anything at all to say about the legality of federal debt cancellation, as it is likely that no party would have standing to challenge the Executive action. This article considers taxpayers, former borrowers, Congress, state governments, and loan servicers, determining that none of these parties could assert both the Article III standing and the prudential standing required to sustain a suit against the Executive for student loan forgiveness. Even if student loan cancellation never occurs, this “standing dead zone” has broader implications for debt cancellation powers held by department heads across the federal government, as well as the wisdom of current federal standing doctrine.

And who better to look at student loan cancellation than a student? But one thing I wonder is whether a state court with less restrictive standing requirements could hear a challenge, even if the federal courts could not.

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