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July 8, 2022

VIDEO: Pressley Meets with Student Debt Holders, Highlights Intersectionality of Cancelling Student Debt

Video (YouTube) | Article (Boston Globe)

BOSTON – Last week, Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley (MA-07), alongside members of The Debt Collective, hosted a virtual roundtable with student debt holders from all walks of life to highlight the intersectional burden the nearly $2 trillion student debt crisis has had on individuals and families, and the life-changing impact cancelling student loan debt would have.

During the roundtable, Rep. Pressley and the participants reiterated their calls for President Biden to cancel student debt and discussed how cancellation would impact not only themselves, but also their families, their careers, and their social and economic mobility.

“For too long, policymakers have dismissed the student debt crisis as one that only impacts the wealthy and the privileged,” said Rep. Pressley. “This is a kitchen table issue. This is an intergenerational issue and yes, this is a racial, economic, and disability justice issue. It is long past time that we treat it as such.”

“Student debt impacts every corner of your life,” said Pamela Hunt, a single mother of eight. “It keeps you from getting other things that you need to live, and in my case, I couldn’t afford a home for my family.”

“We often talk about student debt as individuals, but in reality, it affects entire families, entire communities,” said Tara Sung, a physician assistant and first-generation American. “For so many people my age, our student loans are making it impossible to plan ahead.”

“For me, I’m a working-class individual. This is a working-class issue,” said Dave Ormsby, father and automobile company worker. “The reality of the situation is my job does not pay the kind of money the degree warranted, but I couldn’t get a good job without a degree. I also work part-time jobs to help me pay off my student loans. The system here has me by the throat.”

“For years I was told that the way out of poverty is to pursue higher education. The way we start a career to better our lives often demand we have a degree, so we take out loans and we pursue college,” said Jennifer Lezan, a first-generation college graduate. “It’s frustrating to know that older generations – the President’s generation – could work a part-time job and pay their tuition. But by the time people like me wanted to go to college, that funding, those grants, that support was taken away and tuition skyrocketed.”

“During my junior year, the Pentagon decided to cut the ROTC Student Loan Repayment Program, so any hope I had for loan forgiveness upon commissioning as an army officer was gone,” said Keslie Carrión, a disabled veteran and first-generation college graduate. “To keep me in school, my mother had to make an emergency withdrawal of $50,000 from her pension. It still wasn’t enough.”

In June, Rep. Pressley, along with Senator Elizabeth Warren and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, joined the American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO) and union leaders for a roundtable discussion on the importance of student debt cancellation for American workers. 

Last year, Rep. Pressley, Senator Elizabeth Warren, and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, led their colleagues in reintroducing their bicameral resolution outlining a bold plan for President Biden to tackle the student loan debt crisis by using existing authority under the Higher Education Act to cancel $50,000 in student loan debt for federal student loan borrowers. 

To watch the roundtable, click here for the video. For a recap of the conversation by the Boston Globe, click here.