August 24, 2023

Warren, Pressley, Leader Schumer, Padilla, Warnock, Omar, Clyburn, Wilson Lead Over 75 Lawmakers Urging President Biden to Swiftly Deliver Student Loan Debt Cancellation for 43 Million Americans

New Letter Comes One Year After President Biden’s Announcement of Student Debt Cancellation that Supreme Court Blocked

Text of Letter (PDF)

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley (MA-07), Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), Senators Alex Padilla, (D-Calif.), and Raphael Warnock (D-Ga.) and U.S. Representatives Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.), Jim Clyburn (D-S.C.), and Frederica Wilson (D-Fla.) led 79 other lawmakers in a letter to President Joe Biden, urging him to swiftly deliver on his promise to deliver student debt cancellation to working and middle class families by early 2024. 

“We are extremely disappointed and concerned that the Supreme Court substituted politics for the rule of law to deny as many as 43 million hard working Americans life-changing relief from crushing student loan debt. In the wake of this outrageous decision, we appreciate your announcement initiating a rulemaking under the Higher Education Act of 1965 to deliver on debt relief and write to urge you to swiftly carry out your commitment to working and middle class families, and cancel student debt by early 2024,” wrote the lawmakers. 

Last year, President Biden’s historic decision to cancel up to $20,000 in student debt for working Americans would provide targeted relief to families – an estimated 90 percent of relief dollars going to borrowers earning less than $75,000 a year, and an estimated 20 million people would have seen their student debt balances eliminated entirely. This relief would help families start a business, buy a home, or save for retirement, and also would help narrow the racial wealth gap. Black families are more likely to borrow to go to school, take on higher levels of debt, and disproportionately struggle with repayment compared to their white peers. Further, Black and Latino borrowers are also more likely than their white peers to default on their loans. If enacted, almost half of Latino borrowers and one of four Black borrowers would have had their entire debt balance forgiven under President Biden’s student debt cancellation plan. 

“We are facing a student loan crisis that impacts generations of borrowers who collectively hold more than $1.6 trillion in student loan debt. The burden of student debt is ever-present among vulnerable communities. Nearly one-third of Americans who hold student debt have no degree or credential. Roughly 16 percent of borrowers – including almost one third of senior citizens holding student debt – are in default, with disastrous consequences for their credit and financial health, including the garnishment of wages and government benefits. In fact, nearly three million people over the age of 62 owed more than $110 billion in federal student loans, putting seniors at risk of having their Social Security benefits garnished. More than a third of borrowers eligible for student debt cancellation under your plan are age 40 or older,” continued the lawmakers. 

The lawmakers commended President Biden’s efforts in providing a 12-month “on-ramp” for resuming student loan payments starting in October 2023, but expressed concerns that these repayments will place large burdens on borrowers. They are urging the Department of Education to ensure the implementation of the final rule to provide debt relief does not happen after the 12-month on-ramp ends to help reduce the risk of further delinquency and default. 

“Although the Supreme Court has chosen to stand in the way of your initial student debt relief plan, we recognize that as President of the United States, you have additional tools to provide relief. Working and middle class families need this relief to come as soon as possible. We urge you to continually find ways to use your authority to bring down student debt, address the rising cost of college, and make postsecondary education affordable for all students who choose that path. Borrowers have already waited nearly a year for the relief you announced in August 2022, and critics of your plan to help 43 million Americans are likely to renew their attacks with regard to your rulemaking announcement. We urge you to reject their bad-faith, partisan attempts to delay relief and carry out your efforts to help borrowers as quickly as possible,” concluded the lawmakers. 

U.S. Senators Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii), Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), Ed Markey (D-Mass.), Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), Cory Booker (D-N.J.), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.), John Fetterman (D-Pa.), Patty Murray (D-Wash.), Peter Welch (D-Vt.), and Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) and U.S. Representatives Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-D.C.), Katie Porter (D-Calif.), Veronica Escobar (D-Texas), Jim McGovern (D-Mass.), John Larson (D-Conn.), Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.), Jasmine Crockett (D-Texas), Hank Johnson (D-Ga.), Mark Takano (D-Calif.), Andre Carson (D-Ind.), Nikema Williams (D-Ga.), Glenn Ivey (D-Md.), Dwight Evans (D-Pa.), Ro Khanna (D-Calif.), Kathy Castor (D-Fla.), Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.), Yvette Clarke (D-N.Y.), Nydia Velazquez (D-N.Y.), Jill Tokuda (D-Hawaii), Barbara Lee (D-Calif.), Dan Goldman (D-N.Y.), Delia Ramirez (D-Ill.), Jimmy Gomez (D-Calif.), Jesus “Chuy” Garcia (D-Ill.), Mark Pocan (D-Wisc.), Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.), Nanette Diaz Barragan (D-Calif.), Salud Carbajal (D-Calif.), Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.), Grace Napolitano (D-Calif.), Linda Sanchez (D-Calif.), Grace Meng (D-N.Y.), Val Hoyle (D-Ore.), Judy Chu (D-Calif.), Adriano Espaillat (D-N.Y.), Raul Grijalva (D-Ariz.), Danny Davis (D-Ill.), Betty McCollum (D-Minn.), Don Beyer (D-Va.), Frank Pallone (D-N.J.), Alma Adams (D-N.C.), Madeleine Dean (D-Pa.), Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), David Trone (D-Md.), Maxwell Frost (D-Fla.), Ted Lieu (D-Calif.), Tony Cardenas (D-Calif.), Jamaal Bowman (D-N.Y.), Cori Bush (D-Mo.), Robert Garcia (D-Calif.), Jonathan Jackson (D-Ill.), Greg Casar (D-Texas.), Jerry Nadler (D-N.Y.), Becca Balint (D-Vt.), Troy Carter (D-La.), Bonnie Watson Coleman (D-N.J.), Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.), Terri Sewell (D-Ala.), Mark DeSaulnier (D-Calif.), Chellie Pingree (D-Maine), Sheila Jackson Lee (D-Texas), Sydney Kamlager-Dove (D-Calif.), Juan Vargas (D-Calif.), Brendan Boyle (D-Pa.), and Paul Tonko (D-N.Y.) signed the letter. 

Senator Warren is an outspoken advocate for student debt cancellation and has led work holding the government, servicers, and educational institutions accountable to delivering relief for borrowers: 

  • In July 2023, Senator Warren sent a letter to the Department of Education raising concerns ahead of the expiration of the student loan payment pause over plans to resume collecting on student loans and sharing recommendations to revamp the department’s student debt collection program.
  • In April 2023, Senator Warren led 16 senators in sending a letter to the Chair and Ranking Member of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies requesting the committee provide $2.7 billion in Fiscal Year (FY) 2024 to fund the Office of Federal Student Aid.
  • In February 2023, Senator Warren released a new report based on her investigation into how efforts by Republican officials and special interests to block the President’s plan to cancel up to $20,000 in federal student loan debt would affect Americans.
  • In October 2022, Senator Warren and Representative Ayanna Pressley (D-Mass.) visited communities across Massachusetts to celebrate the Biden administration’s student debt cancellation plan and help residents sign up for student loan relief. 
  • In September 2022, Senator Warren sent a letter to the Department of Justice (DOJ) urging DOJ to issue and implement updated student debt bankruptcy guidance without delay following the Biden-Harris administration’s historic decision to cancel up to $20,000 in student debt for up to 43 million borrowers and overhaul the student loan system.
  • Senator Warren, along with Senate Democratic Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), Senator Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), and U.S. Representatives Pramila Jaypal (D-Wash.) and Mark Takano (D-Calif.), urged Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona, urging the Department of Education (ED) to swiftly discharge the loans of borrowers defrauded by predatory for-profit colleges and universities, including those operated by Corinthian College. 
  • Senator Warren, along with Senate Majority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) and Representatives Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.), Ayanna Pressley (D-Mass.), Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.), and Katie Porter (D-Calif.) led more than 80 colleagues in a bicameral letter to the Department of Education calling for it to release the memo outlining the Biden administration’s legal authority to cancel federal student loan debt and immediately cancel up to $50,000 of debt for Federal student loan borrowers.
  • Senator Warren, along with Senate Majority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) and Representative Ayanna Pressley (D-Mass.) released new analysis showing that resuming student loan payments would strip $85 billion every year from the economy.
  • Senator Warren, along with Senators Van Hollen (D-Md.), Blumenthal (D-Conn.), and Smith (D-Minn.), sent letters to four federal loan servicers, requesting information on their plans to support borrowers when student loan payments resume. 
  • Senator Warren, along with Senators Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Tina Smith (D-Minn.), and Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) sent a letter to Maximus, the company that is assuming Navient’s federal student loans servicing contract, questioning its troubling history and seeking assurances that borrowers will receive appropriate services and protections during the transition. 
  • Senator Warren, along with Senators Cory A. Booker (D-N.J.), Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), Bernard Sanders (I-Vt.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Tina Smith (D-Minn.), Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.), and Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.) sent a letter to the Department of Education urging Secretary Cardona to use his authority to automatically remove all student loan borrowers in default.
  • Senator Warren, along with Senators Van Hollen, Blumenthal, Brown, Smith, Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.), and Robert Menendez (D- NJ.) sent letters to the heads of Pennsylvania Higher Education Assistance Agency, Granite State, and Navient calling on them to correct past errors with borrowers’ accounts and address growing concerns over their preparedness to transfer millions of borrowers to new servicers. 
  • Senator Warren, along with Senator Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.) and Representative Ayanna Pressley (D-Mass.), released a report that detailed the ongoing failures of the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program for public servants in Massachusetts. 
  • At a hearing in July 2021, Senator Warren pushed for borrower protections after a major student loan servicing shakeup.
  • In July 2021, Senator Warren released a statement regarding the end of the Pennsylvania Higher Education Assistance Agency's (PHEAA) contract servicing student loans with the Department of Education.
  • In June 24, 2021, Senator Warren and John Kennedy (R-La.) called on PHEAA CEO to address concerns about false and misleading statements made during a subcommittee hearing on student loans, which was chaired by Senator Warren. 
  • In May 2021, Senator Warren led her colleagues in sending a letter requesting information about the steps the Department of Education and the Office of Federal Student Aid (FSA) are taking to help transition millions of federal student loan borrowers back into repayment ahead of the scheduled end to the pause on student loan payments and interest in September.
  • In April 2021, Senators Warren and Raphael Warnock (D-Ga.) led a group of colleagues in a letter to Education Secretary Miguel Cardona urging the Department of Education to take swift action to automatically remove all federally-held student loan borrowers from default.
  • That same month at her first hearing as chair of the Senate Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs Committee's Subcommittee on Economic Policy, Senator Warren called out PHEAA for its mismanagement of the Public Student Loan Forgiveness Program.
  • Senator Warren also questioned Jack Remondi, CEO of Navient, on the company's long history of abusive and misleading behavior towards borrowers and their profiting off the broken student loan system.
  • In March 2021, Senators Warren and Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) applauded the passage of their Student Loan Tax Relief Act as part of the American Rescue Plan. 
  • Last Congress, Senator Warren introduced the Consumer Bankruptcy Reform Act and in 2019, co-led the Student Borrower Bankruptcy Relief Act with Senator Durbin (D-Ill.) to make student loans dischargeable through bankruptcy.