June 13, 2019

Senator Warren, House Majority Whip Clyburn to Introduce Legislation to Cancel Student Loan Debt for Millions of Americans

The legislation will significantly lessen the student debt crisis and help tackle the racial wealth gap

Washington, DC – United States Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), member of the U.S. Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions, and Representative James E. Clyburn (D-S.C.), House Majority Whip, today announced they will introduce bicameral legislation to eliminate up to $50,000 in student loan debt for 42 million Americans -- providing debt relief to 95% of student borrowers, including cancelling student debt entirely for 75% of borrowers. 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.

Economists estimate this proposal’s ability to lessen the racial wealth gap for families with student loans would be “formidable”. 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.

Outstanding student loans now total nearly $1.5 trillion in the U.S., more than triple the debt young people held thirty years ago. Almost 45 million Americans have student loan debt, and nearly 7.2 million are in default on those loans, as they face stagnant wages and rising costs of living. Black and Latino Americans face the worst effects of the student debt crisis, with many still owing more than 100 percent of their loan balance 12 years after college, even with a degree in hand. The student debt crisis will only get worse unless Congress steps up to help solve it.

“The student debt crisis is real and it’s crushing millions of people -- especially people of color,” said Senator Warren. “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,” said Majority Whip Clyburn. “We need to allow people to get the kind of post-secondary education that will help them achieve their dreams and aspirations, and earn a living to become productive members of society. I look forward to working with Senator Warren on this legislation that will provide affordable access to education for all Americans and attempts to make amends for the underinvestment made in higher education at the state and federal level for over two decades.”

The lawmakers will introduce this legislation in both the Senate and the House in the coming weeks. Their legislation will also include critical policies to help people with any remaining student loans after cancellation, including meaningful student loan bankruptcy relief.

Senator Warren has been a champion for students throughout her six years in the Senate, fighting to create more opportunities for young people and protect America's students from predatory for-profit colleges and greedy student loan companies.

  • She prioritized student debt relief and fought to lower student loan interest rates, introducing the Bank on Students Loan Fairness Act as her first bill in Congress;
  • She conducted rigorous oversight of the for-profit college industry and helped secure three-quarters of a billion dollars in debt relief for students who were cheated by predatory for-profit colleges, including 4,500 Massachusetts students and more than 28,000 students across the country;
  • She successfully advocated for stronger student loan protections for all students, including by passing a bipartisan law that prevented the Department of Education from eliminating competition among student loan servicers;
  • She worked to examine and address disproportionate student debt burden among borrowers of color; and
  • She successfully fought to create a $700 million student loan forgiveness fund for tens of thousands of Americans who work in public service, but may be denied the public service loan forgiveness relief they were promised.