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September 29, 2022

Pressley, Schumer, Omar, Jones Join Borrowers, Advocates to Call for Swift and Equitable Implementation of Student Debt Relief

At Presser Today, Lawmakers & Advocates Applaud Student Debt Plan, Call for Rollout With Minimal Bureaucratic Delay

Video (YouTube) | Photo (Dropbox)

WASHINGTON – Today, Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley (MA-07), Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY), Congresswoman Ilhan Omar (MN-05) and Congressman Mondaire Jones (NY-17) joined student borrowers and advocates at a Capitol Hill press conference to call for swift, efficient and equitable implementation of President Biden’s student debt cancellation plan.

Full video of the press conference is available here and photos are available here.

“President Biden’s student debt cancellation plan is historic and will send ripples forward for generations, allowing folks in Massachusetts and beyond to buy a home, grow their families, build generational wealth, and more,” said Rep. Pressley. “But we are not letting up. Our shared work now is ensuring that the millions of people eligible for this critical relief can access it, which is why the President’s plan must be implemented swiftly, efficiently, equitably, and with as little bureaucratic delay as possible. People need to see this relief as soon as possible and we can’t leave any community behind.”

“After two years of calls, zooms, meetings, and relentless action by members of Congress and advocates to improve the lives Americans, President Biden gave millions a new lease on life by canceling student debt,” said Leader Schumer. “For the first time for many, they will no longer have to decide between making their loan payments or putting food on the table. Rather than helping the privileged few, cancelling student debt is going to lift up Americans of all walks of life: students of color, poor Americans, children of immigrants, working and middle-class families. Democrats continue to deliver real solutions to build ladders to and support the middle class.”

“President Biden has made an investment that will lift the burden of millions of student loan borrowers shackled by exorbitant debt,” said Congresswoman Ilhan Omar. “This is an important step that will provide critical relief to millions of borrowers across the country. And we know for this to be as broad and effective as possible, the Administration must implement this relief as swiftly and efficiently, with minimal bureaucratic red tape, so that everyone eligible can access this critical relief.”

“It has been our relentless advocacy for student debt cancellation that has resulted in this moment, and President Biden’s action will be life changing for millions of borrowers and their families in my home state of New York and across the country, who have been struggling under the crushing burden of student debt for far too long,” said Congressman Mondaire Jones. “But we know we’ve got a lot more work to be done. We need equitable and immediate implementation of this policy, and we also need to live in a world where no one moving forward has to take on crushing student debt.”

Joining the lawmakers at the press conference were NAACP student borrower Dorien Rogers, We the 45M founder Melissa Byrne, Melissa Schober of the American Federation of Teachers, Student Debt Crisis Center Director of Outreach Sabrina Calazans, Student Borrower Protection Center Director of Advocacy Katherine Walbeck, and Young Invincibles Executive Director Kristin McGuire.

“As millions of members of the NAACP and the coalition that we work with on a daily basis has once said, we have secured a monumental victory,” said Dorien Rogers, NAACP. “But the work does not end here. We must work to ensure that every cent is laid out for every American, especially for our Black women who work day in and day out to make sure that this nation is as strong as it can be because Black women contribute to the foundation of this nation.”

“Canceling student debt is joyful, and people who are impacted by issues don’t always have to perform our pain, we can show our joy,” said Melissa Byrne, We The 45M. “Thank you to President Biden for picking up his pen and taking action… This student debt crisis, it is huge. We’re here because it impacts families, it impacts everybody. And we’re not going to let any selfish greedy, elected official who is mad because the corporations lost a round, because the corporations are going to keep losing because the people who have the power and we are fighting. We don’t have any shame anymore. All we have is power because we’ve gotten our first win and we are going to keep winning.”

“President Biden’s debt relief plan would erase my outstanding balance,” said Melissa Schober, American Federation of Teachers. “But what does that really mean? For our family, it means we can afford more for our own child’s future. It means I can save more for my own retirement. And it means I can help my recently retired father who lives on a fixed income. For people like me, and families like mine, this debt relief plan is more than immediate forgiveness. It is the intergenerational security and upward mobility of the kind we only hoped was previously possible.”

“Because of President Biden’s recent action, millions of borrowers and hardworking families will benefit. Two thirds of my student debt will be canceled, all of my sister’s student debt will be canceled, and almost all of my father’s Parent Plus loans will be canceled,” said Sabrina Calazans, Student Debt Crisis Center.“As a Latina, I’m overjoyed to hear that one in two Latino borrowers will have all of their student debt canceled. And as an American, I’m extremely overjoyed to hear that 43 million borrowers will benefit from this decision. And that’s why we must continue fighting alongside each other…to make sure that those who are impacted disproportionately are able to access the application and the relief that they’re entitled to.”

“The decades in which the Department of Education and its servicers denied borrowers access to critical relief programs subjected millions of borrowers to harmful collection practices, and drove millions, disproportionately black and brown borrowers, into default and financial ruin,” said Katherine Walbeck, Student Borrower Protection Center. “Many of these same servicers we’ve seen have already begun campaigns and misinformation in efforts to prevent borrowers from accessing relief under President Biden’s cancellation program. We cannot sit back and allow this to happen yet again. And for this reason, this implementation plan has to be swift. It has to be equitable, and it needs to be efficient. We must ensure that servicers are held accountable and for delivering on President Biden’s cancellation program.”

“Debt cancellation is a major step in the right direction… this is a win. We celebrate President Biden, and we urge the Administration for swift action to enact student loan debt cancellation so that everyone can have access to the resources that we deserve,” said Kristin McGuire, Young Invincibles.

Last week, Rep. Pressley joined the White House and the Department of Education in unveiling state-by-state data on the wide-reaching positive impact of student debt cancellation.

For years, Rep. Pressley, in partnership with House and Senate colleagues, and alongside borrowers, advocates and organizers, have consistently called on President Biden to cancel student debt.

Last year, Rep. Pressley, Senator Warren, and Leader Schumer, along with Reps. Omar and Jones, led their colleagues in reintroducing their bicameral resolution outlining a plan for President Biden to tackle the student loan debt crisis by using existing authority under the Higher Education Act to cancel federal student loan debt.