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US Supreme Court’s final rulings of the term to affect college students


The Supreme Court made its final rulings of the term on June 29 and 30. Two of the rulings will affect the college admissions process and student loan borrowers.

The Court ruled to restrict the use of affirmative action during the college admission process.

Affirmative action is a policy that aims to increase the number of individuals belonging to minority groups at a given university.

The twin cases, named Students For Fair Admission, Inc. v. President and Fellows of Harvard College and Students for Fair Admissions, Inc. v. University of North Carolina, involve Harvard College and the University of North Carolina (UNC). 

“The question presented is whether the admissions systems used by Harvard College and UNC are lawful under the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment,” the Court wrote in the syllabus of the case document.

The Supreme Court voted 6-2 in Students for Fair Admissions, Inc. v. University of North Carolina and 6-3 in Students For Fair Admissions, Inc. v. President and Fellows of Harvard College, NBC reported.

The Supreme Court’s ruling to restrict the use of affirmative action indicates it is unconstitutional to consider race during the admissions process and will no longer be considered moving forward.

UK president Eli Capilouto released a statement via email on Thursday, June 29 informing the campus community that the Supreme Court issued “a long-awaited ruling.”

Capilouto stated that UK will continue reviewing the decision in preparation to fully comply with the new law.

“At the same time, we will remain focused on our priority as an institution – to be a community of care, compassion and belonging for everyone, regardless of who they are and regardless of how someone defines their humanity and identity,” Capilouto said.

According to the Supreme Court’s opinion of the court document, delivered by Chief Justice Roberts, race is taken into account during all stages of Harvard’s admissions process.

The document added that an African American applicant in the fourth lowest academic decile of the applicant pool has a higher chance of admission (12.8%) than an Asian American in the top decile of the applicant pool (12.7%).

“The Court claims that Harvard’s program is unconstitutional because it ‘has led to an 11.1% decrease in the number of Asian-Americans admitted to Harvard,’” according to Justice Sotomayor’s dissenting opinion. 

UNC’s admission process resembles that of Harvard’s.

During the first stage of UNC’s admissions process, admissions office readers are required to consider race and ethnicity as one of the many factors of their application review process as explained in the case document.

“The Court concludes that Harvard’s and UNC’s policies are unconstitutional because they serve objectives that are insufficiently measurable, employ racial categories that are imprecise and overbroad, rely on racial stereotypes and disadvantage nonminority groups, and do not have an end point,” the document states.

In addition to the changes made to the admissions process, on June 30, the Supreme Court ruled to deny President Joe Biden’s student debt relief plan that would forgive $441 billion in federal student loan debt, according to a Forbes Advisor article.

The White House released “FACT SHEET: President Biden Announces Student Loan Relief for Borrowers Who Need It Most,” on August 24, 2022. This document includes a three-part plan to forgive college students of federal student loan debt. 

“According to a Department of Education analysis, the typical undergraduate student with loans now graduates with nearly $25,000 in debt,” the White House document said.

The student debt relief plan outlined in the document consists of three parts: “provide targeted debt relief to address the financial harms of the pandemic, fulfilling the President’s campaign commitment, make the student loan system more manageable for current and future borrowers and protect future students and taxpayers by reducing the cost of college and holding schools accountable when they hike up prices.”

According to the White House document, following through with this plan will provide relief to up to 43 million borrowers.

The issue presented in a case named Biden, President of the United States, et al. v. Nebraska et al. is “whether the Secretary has authority under the Higher Education Relief Opportunities for Students Act of 2003 (HEROES Act) to depart from the existing provisions of the Education Act and establish a student loan forgiveness program that will cancel about $430 billion in debt principal and affect nearly all borrowers,” according to the case document.

Originally, the HEROES Act was a law enacted in 2001 in response to the September 11 terrorist attacks in order to protect borrowers affected by the attacks, according to a New York Times article.

The law was expanded in 2003 so that the Secretary “may waive or modify any statutory or regulatory provision applicable to the student financial assistance programs under title IV of the [Education Act] as the Secretary deems necessary in connection with a war or other military operation or national emergency,” the case document stated.

Title IV of the Education Act allows financial assistance programs to aid students throughout higher education, according to a document released by the Congressional Research Service.

The Supreme Court voting to deny the president’s student debt relief plan means that students who were granted student loan forgiveness during COVID-19 must begin monthly payments again, according to CNN.

Over 300,000 Kentuckians will be affected by this ruling.

“In late January, the White House announced that 362,000 Kentuckians had applied or were automatically eligible for debt relief before the Department of Education stopped accepting applications due to legal challenges,” according to a press release from KyPolicy.

UK has not been in communication with the campus community about how this ruling will affect their students moving forward.

“The Biden administration’s plan would have canceled up to $10,000 of student debt for most borrowers with federal loans,” according to an article published by KyPolicy. “An additional $10,000 – for a total of up to $20,000 – would have been canceled for individuals with student debt relief who received a need-based federal Pell Grant while attending college.”

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Casey Sebastiano, Managing and News Editor

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