Squad member Pressley: Cancelling student debt a 'matter of racial and economic justice'

Sens. Schumer and Warren argue that Biden could implement their $50,000 student debt forgiveness proposal without congressional action

Updated: December 13, 2020 - 11:05pm

Rep. Ayanna Pressley, D-Mass., argues that cancelling student loan debt for borrowers is a "matter of racial and economic justice."

"Even if we wipe out all student debt tomorrow, the devastating impact on consumers' credit will remain for many years to come. So let me be clear, we must wipe out that debt," she said in a speech at the Consumer Federation of America's annual financial services conference last week.

"Student Loan cancellation is a matter of racial and economic justice. Across our country, black student borrowers are forced to borrow more than their white peers, and are five times more likely to default on a student loan," she added.

Pressley, a member of the House Financial Services Committee, noted that she proposed the House-passed Student Borrower Credit Improvement Act, which she said would "establish a credit rehabilitation process for private student loan borrowers facing hardship, making students eligible to have all associated derogatory marks removed from their credit reports, which can otherwise stay on for 7 years." It has not passed in the Senate yet.

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, the top Democrat in the Senate, and Democratic Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren, argue that Biden could implement their $50,000 student debt forgiveness proposal without congressional action. The plan would apply to borrowers earning less than $125,000 annually.

"I have a proposal with Elizabeth Warren that the first $50,000 of debt be vanquished, and we believe that Joe Biden can do that with the pen as opposed to legislation," Schumer, a New York Democrat, said during a recent interview.

Rising college tuition rates are a driving force behind student debt. 

"Since the 1999-2000 academic year, the net price of tuition, fees, room, and board at a public four-year college has increased 68%," according to a Forbes report in September.

Pressley, a member of the "Squad" of progressive lawmakers in the House, and Independent Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, a former Democratic presidential candidate, have advocated for the cancellation of all current student debt.