To: President-elect Joe Biden
TELL JOE BIDEN: Cancel Student Debt on Day One
We urge Joe Biden to cancel student debt using executive action on day one of his presidency.
The president has the legal authority to help people who are suffering. Taking bold and immediate action to protect student loan borrowers would be a lifeline for students, parents, and their families. It would provide Americans with much-needed relief during the COVID-19 pandemic, it would stimulate the economy, and it would tackle racial disparities.
Why is this important?
COVID-19 has made crushing student debt exponentially worse for Americans -- Over 45 million people have student loan debt and many are struggling to get by during the pandemic. Canceling student debt would ensure that families can afford food, supplies, and medications if they face layoffs or smaller paychecks because of the pandemic. This is a matter of economic survival for millions of people.
Student debt threatens the economic security of the entire country -- Before the COVID-19 pandemic, America’s $1.6 trillion student debt total was a major drag on the economy. Now, a pandemic-induced recession and record levels of unemployment are making the problem worse. Debt cancellation would stimulate the economy by boosting GDP by up to $108 billion a year and adding up to 1.5 million jobs per year.
Research shows that student debt cancellation will help address inequities and reduce the wealth gap -- Black and brown communities carry a disproportionate student debt burden and are also facing the brunt of the impact of the pandemic. People of color carry more student loan debt, they face higher rates of lost hours and layoffs, and persistent systemic barriers have resulted in racial inequities in incomes and wealth. The pandemic has also caused a disproportionate number of women, and especially Latinx women, to leave the workforce.
There is growing energy and bipartisan public support to enact student debt cancellation -- A recent poll showed a majority of voters support canceling student debt during the pandemic. It also found strong support from Democrats and Republicans. On top of that, over 1.3 million Student Debt Crisis supporters already signed a petition to cancel student debt to boost the economy in response to the COVID-19 pandemic since March.
Joe Biden campaigned on student debt cancellation, but gridlock in Congress will make it difficult -- The Biden administration must do all that it can to keep that promise. In a recent resolution, Senators Chuck Schumer and Elizabeth Warren made clear that the president has the legal authority to direct the Secretary of Education to cancel student debt based on powers outlined in the Higher Education Act.
Since the president has the power to cancel these debts, we urge Joe Biden to use executive action to cancel student debt on day one.