Congressman Donald M Payne Jr. (241647)
Congressman Donald M Payne Jr. Credit: U.S. Congress/Public Domain photo

Newark Congressman Donald M. Payne Jr. is calling on the Biden administration to cancel student loan debt after news reports surfaced that the president is considering enacting the proposal.

Payne believes that canceling debt would be a historic move to address wealth inequality and reduce barriers to economic mobility, especially for Black and Hispanic borrowers who are often saddled with enormous debt.

“Forgiving student loan debt is the right policy approach to relieve millions of young people from a devastating financial burden that makes it nearly impossible for many of them to buy a home, start a family and advance in their lives and careers,” said Payne. “Studies show that Black and Hispanic college graduates have an average of $25,000 more debt than white borrowers, and Black women have the highest levels of student debt of any group.”

After a meeting with the Congressional Hispanic Caucus last month, reports indicated that Biden may be more seriously considering a move to cancel student debt, in keeping with his campaign promise to eliminate up to $10,000 for student borrowers. Payne is urging him to follow through on this promise, along with members of many progressive and Democratic organizations in New Jersey.

“The burden of student loan debt presents a huge challenge for young people all across the country,” said Fatima Heyward, president of the New Jersey Young Democrats. “By forgiving student debt, President Biden would be making a life-changing difference for millions of people who have had to make sacrifices in their careers and families due to the crushing burden of the debt that they took on in order to pursue an education.”

Last month, the Department of Education announced steps that will bring borrowers closer to public service loan and income-driven repayment (IDR) forgiveness by addressing historical failures in the administration of the federal student loan programs.

Federal Student Aid estimates that these changes will result in immediate debt cancellation for at least 40,000 borrowers under the Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) Program. Several thousand borrowers with older loans will also receive forgiveness through IDR. More than 3.6 million borrowers will also receive at least three years of additional credit toward IDR forgiveness.

“Student loans were never meant to be a life sentence, but it’s certainly felt that way for borrowers locked out of debt relief they’re eligible for,” said U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona. “Today, the Department of Education will begin to remedy years of administrative failures that effectively denied the promise of loan forgiveness to certain borrowers enrolled in IDR plans. These actions once again demonstrate the Biden-Harris administration’s commitment to delivering meaningful debt relief and ensuring federal student loan programs are administered fairly and effectively.”

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