(COLORADO) — Over a third of Colorado’s federal student loan borrowers were approved for loan forgiveness, before a federal judge halted the relief program, according to a new report from the White House.

In August, President Biden announced his Administration’s plan to provide up to $20,000 in debt relief for borrowers earning less than $125,000 per year. The Administration’s program aimed to protect borrowers most at risk of delinquency or default as a result of hardships brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic when the payment pause ends.

The White House report, released by the Biden administration on Friday, Jan. 27, shows the number of applications for student loan forgiveness it had received and approved.

In the less than four weeks that the application was available, 26 million people either applied for debt relief or had already provided sufficient information to the Department of Education to be deemed eligible for relief.

In Colorado, 471,000 people applied or were deemed automatically eligible for relief. Of those, the report states that 295,000 applications were fully approved and sent to loan services for discharge before the Biden Administration was required to stop accepting applications as a result of lawsuits brought by opponents of the program.

The program pause, which was set to expire on Dec. 31, was extended up to June 30, with Biden saying the extension allows the Supreme Court time to hear the case in its current term. 

“Millions of borrowers could be experiencing relief right now were it not for meritless lawsuits brought on by opponents of the program and elected officials who sued to deny their own constituents from getting much-needed relief,” said Haris Talwar, White House Regional Communications Director.

The ruling to halt the program came in response to a lawsuit filed in October 2022 by the Job Creators Network Foundation, a conservative advocacy group, on the behalf of one borrower who is ineligible for the relief program and another who is not eligible for the full $20,000.

“The Administration is confident our program is fully legal, and we are continuing to fight to deliver relief to tens of millions of eligible borrowers,” said Talwar. “We’re hopeful that we will prevail in court, and when we do, we will quickly discharge debt of those who were approved for relief, process applications that are waiting to be processed, and make sure every eligible individual has the chance to benefit from our one-time debt relief plan.”