NewsLocal News


KC mayor endorses student loan forgiveness at U.S. Supreme Court building

Mayor Quinton Lucas
Posted at 4:02 PM, Feb 28, 2023
and last updated 2023-02-28 17:17:34-05

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Kansas City, Missouri, Mayor Quinton Lucas expressed his support for student loan forgiveness outside the U.S. Supreme Court building in Washington D.C. on Tuesday.

Lucas made an appearance at the NAACP’s People’s Rally for Student Debt Cancellation, just outside of where the Supreme Court justices heard oral arguments concerning two challenges to the Biden administration’s student debt relief plan.

“In my city, hard working families every day are trying to build businesses, build careers,” Lucas said. “And what do they run into? Staggering debt that holds them back.”

According to Lucas, 80,000 borrowers in Kansas City would receive more than $575 million in debt relief, and approximately 40,000 borrowers would become completely free of student loan debt.

Lucas, along with three other mayors from across the country, published an op-ed in TIME in favor of student debt forgiveness. The mayors claim student loan forgiveness would help their states flourish economically, and provide much needed relief to their constituents of color, who have been disproportionately affected by student loan debt, according to The White House.

“We need to tell the Supreme Court, we need to tell Congress, and we need to make sure to remind our President that canceling student debt is what is important, what is equitable, and what is right for America,” Lucas said.

Biden’s current plan aims to help working and middle-class Americans. Approximately 90% of relief funds will go toward borrowers who earn less than $75,000 a year, according to The White House.

According to the plan, borrowers who earn less than $125,000 a year will be eligible for $10,000 in student loan forgiveness, and Pell Grant recipients will be eligible for $20,000 in student loan forgiveness.

For one of the challenges, Biden v. Nebraska, six states – Missouri, Kansas, Nebraska, Iowa, Arkansas and South Carolina – stand together to challenge Biden’s plan.

These Republican-led states claim Biden overstepped his authority by planning to use the Higher Education Relief Opportunities for Students Act of 2003 (HEROES Act) – which gave the secretary of education authority to waive or modify requirements of student financial assistance programs – to help alleviate Americans’ student loan debt following the economic fallout of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The states in Biden v. Nebraska also claim student debt forgiveness will financially harm them.

Missouri is home to one of the nation’s largest loan servicers, Missouri’s Higher Education Loan Authority (MOHELA). Nebraska Solicitor General James Campbell, who is representing the six states, said if Biden’s plan prevails, MOHELA would lose 40% of its revenue, according to the Wall Street Journal. MOHELA's revenue partially funds Missouri's universities.

“As Attorney General, I will protect the Constitution, which involves fighting back against the crooked Biden bailout,” said Missouri Attorney General Andrew Bailey. “There is no such thing as canceling a debt- there is only shifting who will bear its weight. As a combat veteran, I paid for my education in blood, sweat, and tears, so this unconstitutional redistribution of wealth is personal for me.”

Bailey said the HEROES Act, which was passed following the 9/11 attacks, was created for a different purpose.

The act ensures the secretary of education can waive or modify requirements of student financial assistance programs for active-duty military personnel during war or national emergencies.

Both challenges, the other being on behalf of two student-loan borrowers who claim the Biden administration did not follow proper protocol when announcing its student debt relief plan, question whether the Biden administration can legally forgive student loan debt without authorization from Congress.

Lucas, who recalled struggling during his childhood as his mother repaid her student loans, said he was “fired up” at the NAACP’s People’s Rally for Student Debt Cancellation.

"I want to cancel student debt more than anybody,” Lucas said at the rally. “I know the struggle, I know the work, and I know more than anything we need to give you an opportunity to build your life up, open businesses, hire Black and brown people, make sure we are paid adequately and fairly, and more than anything that we have a country that works for us, not against us.”