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'I'm going to be paying until I'm 82' | Protesters urge Supreme Court to uphold student debt relief

Hundreds gathered outside the Supreme Court Tuesday pushing student debt relief, while conservative justices express skepticism it's within President Biden's power.

WASHINGTON — Some 26 million Americans have already applied for student debt relief. Hundreds of them rallied outside the Supreme Court Tuesday urging the justices to uphold the president's plan.

Organizers called it that largest ever demonstration by student debtors in front of the Supreme Court. Some of those who showed up say they’re buried under debt, and that the pandemic made it worse. It’s forced some to change careers, even put off retirement.

But they're unsure if the court’s conservative majority is listening.

Sen. Elizabeth Warren, (D-Massachusetts) told WUSA9 that she's convinced the law gives President Joe Biden the authority to cancel an estimated $400 billion in debt over the next 30 years. 

"Donald Trump had the unilateral power to cancel billions and billions of dollars of student loan debt, not just for people who were making under $125,000 a year," Warren said. "He did it for middle class folks and for rich folks, and not one Republican, not one court, raised a single question about it." 

Among the demonstrators was Jeffrey Beal, who worked as a teacher, a principal, and an education researcher after getting his PhD. He’s hoping to retire soon, but isn’t sure he can afford to. 

“I owe $107,000,: Beal said. "I’m going to be paying until I’m 82 years old." 

The plaintiffs call the president’s plan a "breathtaking and transformative exercise of power." But lawyer Maryam Arif says the system isn’t working for people who want to go into public service. 

"I went to law school, so I have hundreds of thousands of dollars in debt," Arif said.

Critics say much of the money will go to people who can afford to pay it back. But Jaylon Herbin of the Center for Responsible Lending says it will help low income Americans recover from a pandemic that’s hit them disproportionately. 

"Working class families, they're the ones who take out debt at a higher rate," Herbin said. "They're the ones that are impacted higher." 

Emory Etim is from one of those families, which is why the college freshman bused up from North Carolina A&T to protest outside the Court. 

"It affects me a lot," he said. "My parents, it’s a big burden on them." 

Etim is likely to know if families like his will get some help about the time college lets out for the summer.

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