Here's What You Need to Remember: Roughly 43 million Americans owe a collective $1.59 trillion in federal student loan debt, and if Schumer’s proposal ever passed, that would wipe out all existing student debt for nearly 83.7 percent of them, according to an analysis by the Department of Education.
“With the flick of a pen, President Biden could get it done and I promise that I’ll keep pushing the Biden administration to do it,” he said at a virtual panel for the Brookings Institution.
Schumer, a long proponent of widespread student loan cancellation, argued that forgiving the debt would offer borrowers stronger financial flexibility, allowing them to start a family, purchase houses, or begin saving for retirement. Several congressional Democrats, including Sen. Elizabeth Warren (MA), Reps. Ilhan Omar (MN), Ayanna Pressley (MA), Alma Adams (NC), and Mondaire Jones (NY) have also stood behind the $50,000 forgiveness measure. The group contends that the president holds the executive authority to unilaterally cancel student loan debt.
The majority leader also said that the proposal would largely benefit low-income and minority borrowers who have been severely impacted by the financial burdens of student loan debt.
“That means a new life for millions upon millions of students, particularly low-income and diverse student loan borrowers crushed by the weight of the debt,” he said.
Biden hasn’t signaled whether he would forgive student loan debt by executive action, though he did instruct Education Secretary Miguel Cardona to draft a report that outlines the president’s legal authority to cancel up to $50,000 in student debt per borrower.
Roughly 43 million Americans owe a collective $1.59 trillion in federal student loan debt, and if Schumer’s proposal ever passed, that would wipe out all existing student debt for nearly 83.7 percent of them, according to an analysis by the Department of Education.
So far, Biden has canceled $3 billion worth of student loans since being in the White House and has approved pandemic-related initiatives aimed at mitigating the financial weight of student loan payments. In January, Bident extended the temporary pause on federal student loan payments until October and maintained the zero interest charge.
The administration also recently canceled $500 million in federal student loans held by 18,000 borrowers who attended ITT technical institute, a for-profit institution that faced massive allegations of fraud.
“Our action today will give thousands of borrowers a fresh start and the relief they deserve after ITT repeatedly lied to them,” Cardona previously said in a statement. “Today’s action is part of the Biden-Harris Administration’s continued commitment to stand up for borrowers when their institutions take advantage of them. Many of these borrowers have waited a long time for relief, and we need to work swiftly to render decisions for those whose claims are still pending. This work also emphasizes the need for ongoing accountability so that institutions will never be able to commit this kind of widespread deception again.”
Rachel Bucchino is a reporter at the National Interest. Her work has appeared in The Washington Post, U.S. News & World Report and The Hill. This article first appeared earlier this year.