Student debt is one of the massive issues being discussed among Democratic candidates in the 2020 election. This is of particular interest to students of HBCUs since 86.8% of black students borrow federal student loans to attend 4-year public colleges, as opposed to 59.9% of white students. (Source – National Center for Education Statistics (NCES)
While each candidate hopes to lighten the college debt load for the next generation of educated Americans, none of them seem to have a plan that’s both as detailed or ambitious as Elizabeth Warren’s plan to cancel student debt up to $640 billion.
“[Student loan] debt not only affects the people who try to carry it ― it affects our entire economy,” Warren said. “Finding a way to cancel a big chunk of that student loan debt means freeing up young people to do more.”
Dealing a blow to student loan debt is hardly a campaign ploy for Warren. Rather, the Student Loan Debt Relief Act is currently part of Warren fulfilling her Senatorial duties. As both a candidate and a member of Congress, Warren has noted that a big driver behind her effort to lower the effects of student debt is the fact that most of the US debt is taken on by low and middle income students — a major target demographic for the senator.
Beyond the demographic aspects regarding who accrues debt and who doesn’t, post secondary education has tripled in price, and as Warren’s competitor Andrew Yang normally says, it hasn’t tripled in quality.
While it will be an uphill battle for the bill to get through the Republican dominated Senate, its presence says a lot about what’s important to the Democrats this election cycle. Currently, both Sanders and Warren (the two candidates furthest to the left) are taking up two of the top five spots. Their success with ideas like free college or cancelling student debt just don’t seem as extreme as they were four years ago.
If the bill somehow passed it wouldn’t be the US government sitting down and cancelling all the debt right out of the gate. The bill more generally aims to make it easier for people who have built up student loan debt to actually cancel that debt. Despite the bill not being a catch all for the nearly 44.7 million Americans owing upwards of $1.5 trillion, it would cancel a max of $50,000 for all Americans making less than $100,000 a year. Warren plans to fund the bill will her “Ultra-Millionaire Tax,” a plan that would collect two cents on the dollar from every person with a fortune over $50 million.
Article by Raz Robinson, journalist and freelance writer, based in New York City and Philadelphia. You can connect with him on LinkedIn, follow him on Twitter @razrobinson or send an email at Rrob0904 (at) gmail (dot) com.