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Canceling Student Loan Debt: Is It Possible?

The campus of Georgetown University is seen nearly empty as classes were canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic, in Washington, DC, May 7, 2020. (SAUL LOEB/AFP via Getty Images)
The campus of Georgetown University is seen nearly empty as classes were canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic, in Washington, DC, May 7, 2020. (SAUL LOEB/AFP via Getty Images)

There’s energy and pushback over a big Democratic policy proposal: forgiving student loan debt. We discuss the debate over student loan forgiveness.


Naomi Zewde, assistant professor in the City University of New York’s School of Public Health. She teaches about health economics and conducts research on economics, insurance reform and other social policies. (@nzewde)

Beth Akers, economist studying higher education and labor markets. Senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute. Co-author of “Game of Loans.” (@DrBethAkers)

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Alexandria Spriggins, project manager for a web and software development company based in Sacramento, California. She dropped out of college in 2013 because of student loans.

Jason Delisle, resident fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, where he works on higher education financing with an emphasis on student loan programs. (@delislealleges)

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Washington Center for Equitable Growth: “Promote economic and racial justice: Eliminate student loan debt and establish a right to higher education across the United States” — “The amount of student loan debt in the United States has ballooned over the past decade—more than tripling from less than $500 billion to more than $1.5 trillion since 2006. What’s more, the repayment burden is substantial—approximately $400 per month on average.”

Rewire News Group: “Cancel All the Student Debt: It’s About Economic and Racial Justice” — “You might feel desensitized to the swelling student-debt figures, but guess who’s not? Graduates—who are paying an average of $400 a month for approximately forever. There are two major proposals from Democratic presidential candidates on this problem.”

Education Next: “Tailor Debt Relief to Those Who Need It Most” — “The popular-media coverage of student loans would have you believe that a generation of young workers is being crushed by unaffordable student-loan debt they can’t escape. Indeed, when presidential candidate Senator Elizabeth Warren last year put forth a proposal to cancel $640 billion dollars in education debt, the plan met with popular approval.”

Wall Street Journal: “The Student Loan Crisis led to a Debt Strike. Experts have other ideas.” — “Starting in 2015, a small number of Americans started a strike: They stopped making payments on their student loans to protest the crisis in student debt. Borrowers in the U.S. collectively owe more than $1.5 trillion.”

Yahoo Finance: “Here’s what student debt forgiveness would look like for borrowers and the U.S. government” — “Dave Osborne, 72, is currently making a nearly $700 monthly payment to Sallie Mae to pay down $55,000 in private student loans while living in retirement in Akron, Ohio.”

Marketplace: “Would canceling $10,000 in student debt really help that much?” — “About 42 million Americans hold a total of $1.6 trillion in student loan debt. The hot-button issue of student loan cancelation, or forgiveness, has once again been top of mind after Sen. Chuck Schumer said in an interview that President-elect Joe Biden could wipe out the first $50,000 of federally-held debt ‘with the pen as opposed to legislation’ — in other words, with an executive order.”

Forbes: “Will Biden Cancel Your Student Loans In January?” — “More and more democrats are calling on President-Elect Joe Biden to use an executive order to cancel student loans. If he follows this advice, he could forgive student debt on the first day of his administration. It would also invite years of legal challenges and add hundreds of billions of dollars, if not more, to our national debt.”

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