The latest hurdle came down this week with new messages sent to 9 million people — messages correcting the erroneous letters sent in November letting them know their application was approved. Since the program is currently in legal limbo after a federal judge in Texas deemed it illegal, no one has yet been approved for relief money.
On November 10, U.S. District Judge Mark Pittman (once appointed by former President Trump) blocked the student loan relief payments from moving forward, calling it “unlawful.” And on November 14, a federal appeals court in St. Louis also instituted a nationwide injunction against the program and prohibited it from advancing.
Upon these decisions, the Federal Student Aid department removed the relief application from the official StudentAid.gov website and issued the following statement, “Courts have issued orders blocking our student debt relief program. As a result, at this time, we are not accepting applications. We are seeking to overturn those orders. If you’ve already applied, we’ll hold your application. Subscribe and check back here for updates. We will post information as soon as further updates are available.”
The White House also released statements vowing to fight a legal battle to overturn the decision — as well, the government also extended the repayment moratorium to June 30, 2023.
Letters Mailed Out In Error
So, it was a mystery when 9 million people received e-mailed letters around November 19-20, coming from Secretary of Education Miguel A. Cardona, letting them know they were approved for debt relief. It was more or less an informational item letting eligible parties know that their application that was filed before the injunction has been reviewed and approved. It also stated that if and when the program could move forward, their payments would be sent out, though it did not specify the dollar amount.
Unfortunately those letters were a mistake, only adding to the confusion and despair of the whole situation. According to MSN, the gaffe came at the hands of Accenture Federal Services, a contractor of the department, who sent out the erroneous messages.
Starting Dec. 12, new e-mailed letters started going out to those 9 million people letting them know of the error. The email subject line reads, “CORRECTION: Status of Your Student Loan Debt Relief Application” and reads in full:
“Due to a vendor error, you recently received an email with a subject line indicating your application for the one-time Student Loan Debt Relief Plan had been approved. The subject line was inaccurate. The body of the previous email was accurate.
We have received your application but are not permitted to review your eligibility because of ongoing litigation. We will keep your application information and review your eligibility if and when we prevail in court.
We apologize for the confusion, and you do not need to take any further action at this time. We will keep you updated with any developments.”
The Hill reported this week that the Supreme Court is planning to hear a second contention to President Biden’s plan with procedures looking to kick off in February.
White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre has also addressed the issue, tweeting last week: “The program is also legal, supported by careful analysis from administration lawyers. @POTUS will keep fighting against efforts to rob middle class families of the relief they need and deserve.”
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