Cancel student loan debt now
Former Education Secretary John King is the latest senior official to call on President Biden to enact widespread student loan forgiveness.
King served as Education Secretary under President Barack Obama from January 2016 to January 2017. King is currently running for Governor of Maryland.
In a statement posted on his website and carried by Business Insider, King argued that millions of borrowers struggling to repay $1.8 trillion in student loan debt represent a “crisis.”
“Too often, the crushing weight of student debt keeps people from even considering buying a home, raising a family, or starting a new business,” King wrote. “Cancelling student debt and ensuring access to higher education for all Americans is more than just a winning policy issue – it’s about our values.” King noted, like other student loan advocates, that student loan relief is also about racial justice because student debt disproportionately affects people of color, which “both reflects and exacerbates racial wealth gap”.
King joins other prominent officials calling on Biden to pass broad student loan waiver
King is just the latest voice in a growing chorus of prominent officials calling on Biden to forgive student loan debt.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) has become a leading proponent of mass student loan cancellations in Congress, alongside many progressive Democrats. “Student debt is an anchor that brings our people down,” Schumer said last week. “We are asking President Biden with the stroke of a pen to cancel student debt.”
Advocacy groups quickly welcomed King’s statement. “Secretary Miguel Cardona should heed the words of his predecessor and move beyond the paltry and inadequate steps the Department of Education has taken thus far and cancel all federal student debt,” said Braxton Brewington, spokesperson for the Debt Collective, a debtors’ union which defends the interests of students. borrowers.
Under Secretary Cardona, the Biden administration approved $16 billion in student loan forgiveness for borrowers by expanding relief under existing programs. But advocates have argued that those efforts don’t go far enough. “The student debt forgiveness announced so far by the Biden administration represents less than 1% of outstanding student debt – barely making a financial dent in the lives of 45 million Americans in the United States. struggling with expensive student loans,” Brewington said. “It’s long overdue for President Biden to follow through on his campaign promise to cancel student debt as demanded by 45 million student debtors and the former Secretary of Education.”
Will Biden Forgive More Student Loans?
Biden voiced support for broad student loan forgiveness during his 2020 presidential campaign, saying he favors moves to forgive $10,000 in student loans for borrowers, as well as targeted relief for borrowers undergraduates who attended public institutions and HBCUs.
But he was more ambivalent about forgiving larger amounts of student loans, and he squarely opposed the $50,000 or more proposed by Senator Schumer and other advocates on the issue.
Biden has said he would sign a student loan forgiveness bill if Congress passes one, but there is no indication that such a bill is forthcoming or has a chance of passing. King, Schumer and other leading voices on student debt forgiveness say Biden has legal authority under existing federal laws to enact broad student loan forgiveness without needing Congress to pass a new legislation. This authority has never been tested on a large scale, however, and other academics and legal experts, including several former officials and lawyers for the Ministry of Education, have argued that this interpretation of presidential authority is incorrect.
As the pressure on the White House continues to mount, administration officials have not made clear their intent. Meanwhile, millions of student borrowers are expected to resume repayment in May, after the end of the nearly two-year pause in student loan payments.
A poll released last week by the Student Borrower Protection Center and Data for Progress found widespread support for student debt forgiveness, with 63% of likely voters backing at least some student loan forgiveness.
Correction: An earlier version of this article stated that John King became Education Secretary in July 2016.
Further Reading on Student Loans
Student loan forgiveness: ‘We’re going to win,’ says top Democrat, as poll shows broad support for debt forgiveness
One Million Borrowers Could Get Expanded Student Loan Forgiveness Starting This Month, Biden Official Says
Unraveling Student Loan Forgiveness: Who Qualifies for Three Complicated Programs for Public Service Workers
Biden could ‘make a decision now’ on student loan forgiveness, says key senator