Supreme Court Affirmative Action Ruling

August 24, 2023
by Zina Kumok
Supreme Court Affirmative Action Ruling

It’s been a busy summer for the Supreme Court. On June 30, the Supreme Court made two decisions that will have a major impact on college students. First, they announced that race-based college admissions will no longer be allowed, ending the program known broadly as affirmative action.


Second, they ruled 6-3 against President Biden’s loan cancellation program, which would have forgiven up to $20,000 in total for federal student loan borrowers.

These two rulings will both have a significant impact on current and incoming college students. Keep reading to learn what you should know about the rulings and what you can do now.

What the Supreme Court Affirmative Action Ruling Means

Because of the Supreme Court's ruling, colleges are no longer allowed to consider race as a basis of admission. When you apply to college, the school can still ask for your race, but they cannot use it as an admission factor.

Students can still mention their race in admission essays, and the Supreme Court said a student’s racial experience, such as discrimination, could still be factored in. Many experts believe that this will result in less diverse populations on college campuses.

What Students Can Do

Worried about how the student loan ruling will impact you? Here’s what you can do in the meantime:

Keep applying for scholarships

Even though the Supreme Court ruling was about college admissions, some schools have already stopped offering scholarships specifically for minority students because they’re worried these will become illegal as well. However, private organizations and companies are still legally allowed to provide scholarships based on race or ethnicity.

There are still countless scholarship opportunities for students from minority groups. Now is the perfect time to dig into those scholarship applications and find as many applicable awards as possible.

On our Scholarships.com Directory, we divide awards by various categories including race and ethnicity. You can easily sort through and find the scholarships that fit your unique background.

Contact the financial aid office

If you’re currently receiving a minority-based scholarship and are worried about it being renewed, you should contact your school’s financial aid office. It seems unlikely that schools will revoke scholarships for current students, but you should double-check with your institution.

Students still in high school who were set to receive a diversity scholarship from the school they’re planning to attend should also reach out to see what the status is.

What the Supreme Court Student Loan Ruling Means

President Biden’s loan cancellation program would have erased $10,000 or $20,000 in federal student loans for borrowers, depending on if they had taken out a Pell Grant at any point. Those with student loans taken out before June 30, 2022 would have qualified for this program, including many current college students.

The justices who voted against the program say that the President exceeded his authority. They also claim that the program would have caused too much harm to the student loan servicer MOHELA, on whose behalf the suit was brought.

After the Supreme Court's ruling was announced, President Biden said he would now try to cancel student loans through the Higher Education Act (HEA). However, many experts are skeptical that this strategy will be successful.

What Students Can Do

Since most legal experts don’t believe that broad loan cancellation will become a reality, there are strategies you can take to reduce your loan total:

Apply for scholarships

If you’ve been slacking on scholarship applications, now’s the perfect time to renew your commitment. Remember, scholarships are available for all grade levels, even community college, graduate and Ph.D. students.

Sign up for an account on Scholarships.com to get notified when eligible scholarships are posted and to keep track of potential awards. Look for awards that match your skills and interests.

Keep taking out federal loans

Some students may think that because loan cancellation was not approved, there is no benefit to taking out federal loans instead of private loans. But federal loans still offer more benefits than private loans. For example, federal loans were paused during the Covid-19 pandemic while borrowers with private loans still had to make payments.

Private loans were not included in President Biden’s loan cancellation plan and rarely offer the long deferment and forbearance periods associated with federal loans. Borrowers with private loans only qualify for loan forgiveness in rare cases, like if they apply for a specific kind of job-based loan forgiveness program.

Keep filling out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), which gives you access to federal aid including student loans, grants and work-study. Try to complete the application as soon as it is open to qualify for awards with a limited number of spots.

Look into income-driven repayment plans

If you’re worried about affording your student loans, the federal government offers several income-driven repayment (IDR) plans that can reduce your monthly payment.

President Biden even announced a new plan - Saving on a Valuable Education (SAVE) - that will likely result in much lower loan payments than other IDR plans. For example, any unpaid accrued interest will be covered under SAVE, while it will not be covered under other IDR plans.

Apply to be an RA

If you’re a current student and are worried about your debt total, apply to become a Resident Advisor (RA). RAs live in the dorm and provide services to those students, like organizing activities, doing room checks and more.

RAs usually get free dorm housing, which costs about $10,000 annually on average. Most also get a modest stipend or a meal plan discount. Being an RA can be a stressful experience, so make sure you can handle the workload on top of your classes.

College is expensive. Scholarships.com has done the work for you. Pay for your college education with free college scholarship money. Get matched to college scholarships instantly and start applying today by conducting a free college scholarship search at Scholarships.com.


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