Elizabeth Warren Shares Plan To Cancel Student Debt On 'Day 1' Of Her Presidency

by Valerie Williams
Scott Olson/Getty

Elizabeth Warren is making student debt cancellation a priority of her future presidency

As early as April 2019, democratic presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren was talking about her very bold plan to cancel student debt. Now, as the primaries edge closer, Warren has released a detailed plan to tackle the student debt crisis on “day one” of her presidency.

Yep. If she’s elected, Warren has big plans to use federal powers in directing the Secretary of Education to “use their authority to begin to compromise and modify federal student loans consistent with my plan to cancel up to $50,000 in debt for 95% of student loan borrowers,” which adds up to a total of around 42 million people. She announced the move in a memo posted to her campaign website today.

“We’re facing a student loan crisis — one that’s holding back our economy and crushing millions of American families,” she said in her statement. “I have already proposed bold steps to broadly cancel student loan debt, provide universal tuition free public two- and four-year college and technical school, ban for-profit colleges from receiving federal aid, and help end racial disparities in college enrollment and resources.”

She continues, “But the Department of Education already has broad legal authority to cancel student debt, and we can’t afford to wait for Congress to act. So I will start to use existing laws on day one of my presidency to implement my student loan debt cancellation plan that offers relief to 42 million Americans — in addition to using all available tools to address racial disparities in higher education, crack down on for-profit institutions, and eliminate predatory lending.”

Warren cites her experience in studying “why so many hard-working middle-class families were going broke.” Her findings? They’re being crushed by an economy that put them into debt merely so they could remain in the middle class. “Student debt is no different: for decades, students have worked hard and played by the rules,” she said. “They took on loans on the promise that a college education would justify their debt and provide a ticket to the middle class. But our country’s experiment with debt-financed education went terribly wrong: instead of getting ahead, millions of student loan borrowers are barely treading water.”

As of March 2019, the total U.S. student loan debt rang in at a staggering $1.6 trillion with 2018 grads owing an average of $29,200. That’s no way to begin life as a young adult, and Warren knows it.

She also touched on the vast inequality when it comes to student loan debt and non-white borrowers. “It’s a problem for all of us,” she says. “And the burdens of student debt are not distributed equally across all Americans: our country’s student debt crisis is hitting Black and Latinx communities especially hard. Half of Black borrowers and a third of Latinx borrowers default on their loans within 20 years.”

Warren has specific plans (because of course she does) for tackling many facets of the issue including “… simplifying the application processes, doing affirmative outreach to borrowers to encourage them to apply, clearing out backlogged applications, using available data to match borrowers with their discharge options, automatically cancelling debts, discharging loans for groups instead of requiring individuals applications, and fixing any adverse effects of the debt on borrowers’ credit history.”

“The future of our economy and the lives of a generation of student loan borrowers are at risk, and I’m committed to seeing this fight through no matter what,” she says. It’s clear as day — she’s got a plan for that.