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Council President Blaine A. Griffin and Councilwoman Maurer Issue Statement on Supreme Court Student Loan Decision

Jun 30, 2023

Council President Blaine A. Griffin and Councilwoman Maurer Issue Statement on Supreme Court Student Loan Decision

One in four adult Clevelanders carry student loan debt. They are teachers and nurses. They are people who were sold on a for-profit college but never finished a degree. They are seniors who tried to help their grandkids get through college.

And while many once considered student loans to be “good debt,” we know now that this has too often become a new predatory trap. Payments have been on pause during COVID but come this fall Clevelanders will soon return to repayment an average cost of $300 – something we know few can afford. 

President Biden’s debt forgiveness plan to forgive up to $20,000 in student loan debt was a genuine path forward to relieve millions of Americans and thousands of Clevelanders of their debt entirely and make the remaining debts more manageable for others. 

Today the Supreme Court struck down that opportunity on technicalities far removed from the daily lives of Americans. It’s a devastating moment for the pocketbooks of Clevelanders in a city where too many are already struggling. 

What’s worse is that we know that student loans are a civil rights issue. They reflect our society’s many systemic inequalities, with Black borrowers ending up with more debt that they are less able to pay down over time. 

Because of the risks and opportunities of this moment, City Council, led by Councilwoman Rebecca Maurer hosted the first-ever Student Loan Advocacy Roundtable yesterday at City Hall where we heard from national and local experts on the state of student loan debt. (Click here to view slides from yesterday’s presentation by national experts at the Roundtable.)

Councilwoman Maurer shared, “The biggest takeaway from the roundtable was simple: we will need to work together to prevent a new financial crisis from hitting Cleveland. We need front line service providers throughout the city – many of whom were in the room – to discuss student loan issues with their clients and help prevent devastating outcomes like garnishment and lack of credit. And we need leaders throughout the city to share a consistent message.” 

Council President Blaine A. Griffin stated, “Many Clevelanders have taken on student loan debts and have viewed it as an investment in themselves and their families. That investment has worked out for some, but for so many these loans have proved to be an unbearable debt. Clevelanders need economic relief. Today’s ruling hurts Clevelanders, and so many others who sought to do the right thing by investing in their education.”

With today’s disappointing Supreme Court decision, that call to action is stronger than ever. City Council stands ready to do what we can to spread the word in our communities and call on our partners across the city to do the same.