In a letter to President Joe Biden on Tuesday, more than 80 Democratic lawmakers asked the president to cancel “up to $50,000 of student loan debt per borrower.”
The letter, which included the signature of Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY), began by thanking Biden for extending the student loan pause, a move he made in December, and then requested he permanently cancel federal student loan debt.
“As you continue to evaluate the best way forward to an equitable recovery [from COVID-19], we urge you to direct the Department of Education to publicly release the memo outlining your legal authority to broadly cancel federal student loan debt and immediately cancel up to $50,000 of student loan debt per borrower,” the letter reads.
The Democratic lawmakers said this move would provide relief to more than 36 million Americans. They also suggested that student loan payments would resume again but did not give a timetable for when that might happen. “In light of the high COVID-19 case counts and corresponding economic disruptions, restarting student loan payments without this broad cancellation would be disastrous for millions of borrowers and their families,” the Democrats wrote.
In December, the White House froze student loan payments until May 1. At the time, The New York Times reported that this decision affected around 41 million borrowers – that included nearly 27 million who hadn’t made a payment since March 2020.
“While our jobs recovery is one of the strongest ever — with nearly six million jobs added this year,” Biden said in a statement following the student loan freeze. “We know that millions of student loan borrowers are still coping with the impacts of the pandemic and need some more time before resuming payments.”
Biden made student loan forgiveness a staple of his presidential campaign, promising in March 2020 to forgive “a minimum of $10,000 per person.”
Additionally, we should forgive a minimum of $10,000/person of federal student loans, as proposed by Senator Warren and colleagues. Young people and other student debt holders bore the brunt of the last crisis. It shouldn't happen again.
— Joe Biden (@JoeBiden) March 22, 2020
Last month, Vice President Kamala Harris joined the calls for student loan forgiveness, The Daily Wire reported. “So, I know that Sec. (Miguel) Cardona, the Secretary of Education, is working on what we can do and must do frankly to relieve the — the pressures of student loan debt, and it’s a real issue,” Harris said in an interview with Margaret Brennan on “Face the Nation.”
“Students across — well graduates and former students across our country are literally making decisions about whether they can have a family, whether they can buy a home,” she continued. “And it’s no small matter, and we need to figure out a way to relieve debt.”
The letter to President Biden also argued that canceling student loans would help “close the racial and gender gap,” pointing to black communities that have been “borne out of generations of discriminatory policies.”
“Due to systemic barriers, Black, Latino and Native American borrowers are more likely to struggle with repayment and consequently default on their loans at higher rates,” the letter reads.