Elizabeth Warren said canceling $50,000 in student debt would give 36 million borrowers 'permanent total relief'

·2 min read
  • Sen. Elizabeth Warren spoke at a town hall Thursday as part of a push for student-debt forgiveness.

  • She repeated arguments from a letter Democrats sent urging President Joe Biden to act "immediately."

  • The letter argued Biden should forgive up to $50,000 a borrower before the end of the payment pause.

Sen. Elizabeth Warren on Thursday said canceling $50,000 in student-loan debt could give 36 million borrowers "permanent total relief."

Warren appeared at a virtual town hall with Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Rep. Ayanna Pressley to continue Democrats' push for broad student-loan forgiveness.

The Massachusetts senator reiterated her call on President Joe Biden and his administration to "do the right thing" and offer relief to student-loan borrowers.

"Canceling $50,000 of student-loan debt would give 36 million Americans permanent total relief," Warren said during the town hall. "That would be the end of their debt burden. And it would aid millions more by significantly reducing the principal on their debt."

WASHINGTON, DC - JULY 23: Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) speaks during a press conference on Capitol Hill July 23, 2019 in Washington, DC. Warren spoke with Rep. Jim Clyburn (D-SC) on legislation to cancel student loan debt for millions of Americans.
Sen. Elizabeth Warren at a press conference on July 23, 2019, in Washington, DC.Win McNamee/Getty Images

Federal student-loan debt totaled $1.6 trillion in 2021, held by more than 43 million borrowers.

The Biden administration has faced mounting pressure to fulfill his campaign promise and cancel at least $10,000 in student-loan debt — a figure some Democrats have been urging him to raise significantly.

More than 80 Democratic lawmakers sent a letter this week urging Biden to "immediately" cancel student debt before May, when the pause on payments is scheduled to end.

The letter, which mentioned the $50,000 and 36 million figures that Warren cited at the town hall, also urged the administration to publicly release a memo outlining its authority to provide student-loan relief to borrowers; thus far the administration has instead asked Congress to send a student-debt bill to Biden's desk.

"When Elizabeth and I started on this, they denied that they had the authority to do it — they don't deny that anymore," Schumer said during the Thursday town hall. "We've made the conclusive case."

"The president can do it with a flick of the pen — all he has to do is sign an executive order. He doesn't need a single Congress member on his side — he just has to do it," he continued, adding: "And if the administration signs this, it will provide immediate relief to millions of Americans currently saddled with this awful debt."

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