Last updated on: 11/13/2023 | Author:

Should Any Amount of Student Loan Debt Be Eliminated via Forgiveness or Bankruptcy?

Student loan debt is frequently in the news as politicians debate solutions to the rising costs of college that lead to sometimes crippling amounts of debt. For those with outstanding student loans, such debt can be discharged in two ways: forgiveness and bankruptcy.

On Aug. 24, 2022, President Biden announced a short loan freeze through Dec. 31, 2022, as well as a cancellation of “up to $20,000 of federal student loan debt for Pell Grant recipients, and up to $10,000 for other qualifying borrowers.” The White House stated about 43 million borrowers would qualify the cancellation, with 20 million borrowers qualifying to have their debt completely canceled. On June 30, 2023, the U.S. Supreme Court struck down the student loan program in a 6-3 vote under the premise that federal law does not permit the U.S. Department of Education to cancel such student loans. For more on student loan debt elimination, explore the ProCon debate.

PRO (yes)


Joe Biden:

“No President has fought harder for student debt relief than President Biden, and he’s not done yet. President Biden and Vice President Harris will not let Republican elected officials succeed in denying hardworking Americans the relief they need….

The President remains committed to providing relief to low- and middle-income borrowers. For too many Americans, a ticket to the middle-class remains out of reach because of unmanageable student loan debt. COVID-19 exacerbated that challenge – risking tens of millions of borrowers’ financial security and futures because of the economic harms brought on by a once-in-a-century pandemic.”


White House, “FACT SHEET: President Biden Announces New Actions to Provide Debt Relief and Support for Student Loan Borrowers,”, June 30, 2023


Ron DeSantis:

“The reality is we’ve had a generation of students go deep into debt and some of them end up with degrees in things like zombie studies, which are just not making a difference….

It’s wrong to say that a truck driver should have to pay off the debt of somebody who got a degree in gender studies. This is not the taxpayers that should have to do that. At the same time, I have sympathy for some of these students because I think they were sold a bill of goods. I think these universities knew that they could take all this federal loan money. And if you’re there for six years, hey that’s more money for them, right? And they do it, and they increase their administrative bloat and they didn’t make the the instruction any better…..

Student loans [for ‘successful degrees’] should be dischargeable in bankruptcy.”


Ayelet Sheffey, “Ron DeSantis Says He Has ‘Sympathy’ for Some Student-Loan Borrowers — and Wants to Make It Easier for Them to Get Rid of Their Debt in Court,”, Aug. 2, 2023


Robert F. Kennedy, Jr.:

“The unfortunate SCOTUS ruling striking down President Biden’s #studentloan forgiveness program was the predictable result of Biden’s failure to bring Congress together on this issue of crucial importance to young Americans.

President Biden knew his plan wouldn’t survive a legal challenge. His plan gave the appearance of action, while accomplishing nothing.

This is an issue of grave importance to our country. As President, I will galvanize public support to pressure Congress to put down their partisan positions and legislate meaningful relief to the tens of millions of Americans who are drowning in student debt.

I will also take steps to reduce education costs for students. When I was their age, a college education cost about one-seventh of what it is today. A young person could work their way through college and graduate debt-free. If we devoted even a fraction of our military budget to higher education, it could be virtually free to all (as it is in many other countries).

Funding higher education is not an entitlement program, it is an investment in America’s future, just as with infrastructure and environment. Let’s invest in America’s young people instead of in the forever wars.”

Editors’ Note: The hashtag #Kennedy24 was repeated throughout the tweet thread. ProCon removed the hashtag for text continuity.


Robert F. Kennedy, Jr.,, June 30, 2023


Donald Trump:

“I am proud to announce that I am taking executive action to ensure that our wounded warriors are not saddled with mountains of student debt. They have made a sacrifice that’s so great. And they’re such incredible people. And they never complain. They never complain. That’s hundreds of millions of dollars in student debt held by our severely wounded warriors. It’s gone forever.”

Editors’ Note: Trump has expressed a CON opinion about a wider student loan forgiveness program: “Today, the Supreme Court also ruled that President Biden cannot wipe out hundreds of billions, perhaps trillions of dollars, in student loan debt, which would have been very unfair to the millions and millions of people who paid their debt through hard work and diligence, very unfair.”


Neil Vigdor, “Trump Orders Student Loan Forgiveness for Disabled Veterans,”, Aug. 21, 2019 

Source for Editors’ Note: Cynthia Measom, “If Trump Wins, What Could Happen To Student Loan Debt?,”, July 15, 2023

CON (no)


Doug Burgum:

“Instead of focusing on reducing the rising costs of higher education, the President’s blatantly political and financially reckless plan will only incent[ivize] institutions to raise tuition prices even faster while also encouraging more student borrowing and driving up inflation even further, hitting every American in the pocketbook whether they attended college or not. This horribly misguided and incredibly unfair plan undermines a core American principle that individuals are responsible for paying off their own personal debts. This federal action will not affect student loans held by the Bank of North Dakota, and we would strongly oppose any copycat legislation at the state level. North Dakotans, like the majority of Americans, believe shifting college student loan debt onto the backs of their fellow citizens is fundamentally wrong.”


Doug Burgum, “Burgum Releases Statement on President Biden’s Student Loan Debt Cancellation Plan,”, Aug. 25, 2022


Chris Christie:

“[Student loan debt forgiveness] does nothing to control college costs. The reason people have higher loans is because college is more expensive. This does not make college less expensive. It makes it more expensive, when you’re giving away things.”


Annie Nova, “Here’s Where the Republican Presidential Candidates Stand on Student Loan Forgiveness,”, Aug. 24, 2023


Vivek Ramaswamy:

“The Supreme Court just struck down Biden’s disastrous student loan forgiveness program. We have a bad habit in America of paying people to do the exact opposite of what we want them to do: more $$ to stay at home than to work, more $$ to be a single mother than married, more $$ for those who *fail* to repay loans than those who do. As a matter of policy, this decision helps reverse that trend. As a matter of law, this case builds upon West Virginia vs. EPA (2022) in setting a powerful precedent suggesting that *most* regulations promulgated by the Administrative State are unlawful. I will lead the Executive Branch accordingly: I will rescind *all* federal regulations that fail the Supreme Court’s new standard. This will unleash the American economy and restore the integrity of our 3-branch Constitutional Republic over the unconstitutional behavior of the Fourth Branch.”


Vivek Ramaswamy,, June 30, 2023

Not Clear or Not Found

Nikki Haley:

“And for some Americans who have housing prices coupled with student loans and we have people decades after they graduate, they’re still paying off these loans. And so regardless of what the [U.S. Supreme Court] forgiveness decision will be, the cost is still gonna be there. And I think, I think one way is stop the interest. Um you know, don’t put interest on student loan until after the person finishes their schooling. You know, because if they borrow it, their freshman year, they’re already accruing more interest and it’s getting bigger. Why don’t we just go if we lend it to them, let it hold and then once they graduate, give them the ability to make it pay it back but not already have this balloon loan that they got because the interest was just accruing the whole time on one thing.”


WMUR, “Former UN Ambassador Nikki Haley Answers Questions Focused on Topics Popular among Young Voters,”, May. 31, 2023