As one of the leading voices for student loan debt cancellation among U.S. lawmakers in Congress, Sen. Bernie Sanders on Wednesday issued loud praise for President Joe Biden’s new plan to forgive up to $20,000 for some borrowers even as he said much more must be done to deliver higher education without the crushing financial strain of loans.
“In the year 2022, in the wealthiest country on Earth, everyone in America who wants a higher education should be able to get that education without going into debt.”
“The president’s decision today to reduce the outrageous level of student debt in our country is an important step forward in providing real financial help to a struggling middle class,” the Vermont independent said in a statement.
By reducing “up to $10,000 in student debt for working-class Americans and up to $20,000 for Pell Grant recipients,” Sanders welcomed how the plan would wipe away student debt for an estimated 20 million Americans while reducing the burden of debt for 43 million in total.
“The result of this decision,” he said, “is that millions of Americans will now be in a better position to start families, or buy the homes and cars they have long needed. This is a big deal.”
In addition to his statement, Sanders released a video on social media highlighting his participation in the long fight for student debt cancellation and elevating the voices of Americans who have suffered under the overwhelming burden of their student loan obligations.
Going beyond forgiveness of existing debt, Sanders said that policymakers and legislators in the country must be even bolder to ensure that adequate education is made available to all Americans, regardless of age, income level, or zip code.
“We have got to do more,” Sanders said. “At a time of massive income and wealth inequality, education, from pre-school through graduate school, must be a fundamental right for all, not a privilege for the wealthy few.”
Far from alone among progressives, Sanders’ call for much deeper reforms—including the end of student loan debt—was echoed by many including longtime ally Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.). She tweeted:
Much further-reaching reforms, Sanders argued in his Wednesday statement, will be necessary if the country is to fulfill the promise of delivering world-class education without saddling people with the economic chains of debt.
“If the United States is going to effectively compete in the global economy we need the best educated workforce in the world, and that means making public colleges and universities tuition-free as many other major countries currently do,” he said, “and that includes trade schools and minority-serving institutions as well.”
“In the year 2022, in the wealthiest country on Earth,” Sanders concluded, “everyone in America who wants a higher education should be able to get that education without going into debt.”
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