Warren, Clyburn to Introduce Bill to Forgive Billions in Student Loan Debt

Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) and Rep. James Clyburn (D-SC) announced on Thursday that they will introduce legislation in the House and Senate that would forgive up to $50,000 of each students’ college loan debt, which would help about 42 million people, according to a press release posted on Warren’s Senate website.

“The legislation will significantly lessen the student debt crisis and help tackle the racial wealth gap,” the headline of the press release announcing the bills said.

Warren, a member of the U.S. Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions and Clyburn, House Majority Whip, both claim that the bill, if it becomes law, will help about 95 percent of student borrowers and cancel debt entirely for some 75 percent of borrowers.

“The student debt crisis is real and it’s crushing millions of people — especially people of color,” Warren said in the announcement. “It’s time to decide: Are we going to be a country that only helps the rich and powerful get richer and more powerful, or are we going to be a country that invests in its future?”

“For far too many students and families, the cost of higher education has meant daunting debt and a lifetime of student loan repayments,” Clyburn said.

“The bill would significantly lessen the student debt crisis that is holding back generations of young people, help millions of struggling families obtain financial stability, and would also take meaningful steps to begin to close the racial wealth gap,” the press release said.

The press release includes a link to a letter from academics at Brandeis University that analyzed the proposal. 

“Our analysis of this policy suggests it would have a substantial impact on student debt forgiveness and would greatly benefit households with the least ability to repay,” the letter said.

“For those families, not only would the black-white and black-Latino wealth gap close ‘considerably,’ but black families with student loan debt would see their wealth grow by about $15,700 and Latino families would see their wealth grow by over $27,000,” the press release said.

The announcement noted that outstanding student debt in the United States is now nearly $1.5 trillion, “more than triple the debt young people held thirty years ago,” and that figure represents 45 million people, with more than 7.2 million in default of their student loans.

The press release said that blacks and Latinos have the worst student debt, with many still owing more than 100 percent of their loan 12 years after leaving college.

The press release slams “greedy student loan companies” and “predatory for-profit colleges” and touts Warren’s accomplishments in championing remedies for student loan debt including getting debt relief for students who were “cheated by predatory for-profit colleges.”

“She successfully fought to create a $700 million student loan forgiveness fund for tens of thousands of Americans who work in public service, but maybe denied the public service loan forgiveness relief they were promised,” the press release said.

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