Education Secretary Miguel Cardona spoke with Scripps News on Thursday after the Supreme Court's ruling that race cannot be used as a factor in deciding college admissions.
"We're taking a step backwards here with college admissions," Cardona said of the decision. "It's the Supreme Court deciding on a tool no longer being available to promote diversity. But this idea of making sure that our universities reflect the beautiful diversity of our country — we're still committed to that 100%."
"We have to make sure that in our response, it's based on what the decision was, not what we assumed it could be," Cardona said. "Right now our teams are working extremely hard, going through it to make sure that within 45 days, we have tools and resources for universities as they're planning their policies for the upcoming year."
Cardona said the department would continue to work with college presidents and other officials to help college students.
"We're going to find strategies that work that are lawful and follow the Supreme Court decision, but are committed to the goal of making sure that we're providing opportunities for students who maybe historically haven't had those opportunities, and that we're providing opportunities for students, not based on wealth or privilege, but on the their ability to be successful in an agile learning environment at the university level."
Cardona also looked ahead to another hotly anticipated Supreme Court decision, over whether the Biden Administration can move to forgive certain amounts of student loan debt. Under the plan, those who qualify could apply to have $10,000 in federal debt canceled, or up to $20,000 if they're Pell Grant recipients.
Cardona said he was very confident that the law as it stands grants the president and the Department of Education authority to extend relief to borrowers — but he declined to elaborate on how the Department of Education might react if the Supreme Court halts the effort.
"It's in our DNA in this administration to fight to make sure we make college affordable and accessible," he said. "And that's never going to change."
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