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Nation waits as Supreme Court ponders student loan debt relief and college admissions

Supreme Court set to issue rulings that could impact student loan debt and college admissions
Supreme Court set to issue rulings that could impact student loan debt and college admissions 02:15

NEW YORK -- The Supreme Court is poised to issue two major rulings that could impact student loan debt and college admissions.

As soon as Thursday, we could learn whether affirmative action will be a thing of the past.

CBS2 talked to local experts on both cases.

Incoming Columbia Law School student Andrew Brennen says affirmative action played a role in his admission.

"In many ways, it's a dream come true. I always wanted to go to law school, but was never sure how to make the economics work," Brennen said.

He was awarded a full scholarship from the NAACP Legal Defense Fund so he can one day practice civil rights.

READ MOREThe Supreme Court may rule soon on student debt relief. Here's what to know.

Soon, the Supreme Court will decide whether race can continue to be used as a factor in college admissions.

Legal expert Andrew Lieb explained what could happen if it's struck down.

"Would you just ignore someone's background coming from a specific racial minority that had a specific issue when they wrote the admission letter? Then the slippery slope is do we need to get rid of admissions letters?" Lieb said.

Already at least nine states have policies that do not allow race to count in university admissions.

"It will really mitigate our ability to create the kind of diversity that is beneficial for society moving forward," said Jake Moreno Coplon, CEO of America Needs You.

READ MORESenate votes to undo Biden's student loan relief

The Supreme Court is also considering whether people like Bushwick resident Sean Miller can have thousands of dollars in federal student loans forgiven, thanks to a Biden administration program now on hold as its challenged by several Republican-led states.

"I have roughly $65,000 in student loan debt," said Miller, northeast regional director of Young Invincibles. The group reports $37,638 is the average student loan debt for New York residents.

Biden's plan forgives up to $20,000 in debt. Forty million Americans would qualify and about half would be completely debt free, according to the Department of Education.

"The objection to the plan is that the Department of Education doesn't have the statutory authority to implement its debt forgiveness plan," said Noah Rosenblum, a law professor at NYU Law School.

READ MORESupreme Court's conservatives sharply question legality of Biden's student loan forgiveness program

Miller's organization, Young Invincibles, says more than half of borrowers are under the age of 35.

CBS2 spoke to two students from the Bronx who say they owe more than $20,000 in loans. One graduated last year and hasn't found work.

"When I do get a job, then I have to start saving and paying,' Ifeoma Okeke said.

"American government, they do bail out businesses of hundreds of millions of dollars every single year, so doing this is not ... it's not grasping for straws," Onyekachi Okeke said.

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau says 1 in 5 borrowers have risk factors that could cause them to struggle to pay bills.

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