October 26, 2022
ICYMI: Rep. Pressley and Sen. Warren Launch Student Debt Cancellation Tour Across Massachusetts
Lawmakers Visited Sites in Boston, Brockton, Worcester, and Springfield to Sign Up Residents for Student Debt Cancellation
BOSTON – Yesterday, Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley (MA-07) and Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) visited communities across Massachusetts to celebrate the Biden administration’s student debt cancellation plan and help residents sign up for student loan relief. Their statewide road trip followed the White House’s launch of the application for student loan debt cancellation.
Alongside Massachusetts students, borrowers, advocates and elected officials, the lawmakers visited the Grove Hall Branch of the Boston Public Library in Dorchester, Massasoit Community College in Brockton, UMass Chan Medical School in Worcester, and Springfield Technical Community College in Springfield.
“Senator Warren and I are committed to spreading the word and encouraging folks across Massachusetts to access this essential relief,” said Representative Ayanna Pressley. “It was great to be in community along with advocates and help constituents apply for student debt cancellation in real time. The application takes just a few minutes, and we encourage everyone eligible to apply. I also want to underscore that there are just a few days left for our educators, non-profit workers, nurses, and other in public service to apply for the PSLF waiver. Student debt cancellation will change and save lives, and I look forward to continuing to get the word out in my district, across Massachusetts, and nationwide. I am so grateful to Senator Warren for being such a dedicated partner in this work every step of the way.”
“I was delighted to see many Massachusetts constituents and local and state officials across my student debt tour with Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley,” said Senator Elizabeth Warren. “Over 800,000 hard working people in Massachusetts can now apply for student debt relief and I was grateful to discuss this life-changing opportunity with communities in Massachusetts. People should continue to visit studentaid.gov to apply for student debt cancellation and I encourage public servants to apply for the PSLF waiver before the October 31st deadline.”
“We applaud Senator Warren and Congresswoman Pressley for their relentless work on behalf of student loan borrowers and for hosting the historic student loan cancellation tour,” said Persis Yu, Deputy Executive Director of the Student Borrower Protection Center. “Thousands of Massachusetts borrowers now have the chance to sign up for life-changing student loan debt relief. We cannot stop until every single borrower across every single community is able to feel the impact of this transformational policy. We urge all public officials to follow suit and deliver racial and economic justice to their constituents by helping to cancel their student debt.”
“We’re thrilled to see Senator Warren and Representative Pressley take to the streets to spread the word about student loan forgiveness,” said Kyra Taylor, staff attorney at the National Consumer Law Center. “Widespread debt cancellation will be transformational for student loan borrowers in Massachusetts and across the country. Releasing borrowers from the debt that has accumulated during the student loan crisis will allow so many to begin to invest in brighter futures for themselves and their families. Everyone who is eligible for forgiveness needs to know that they can begin to apply for debt relief today.”
“This debt has become a major barrier to economic growth and now 800,000 Mass. residents, many of them Black and Brown, will have the financial freedom to launch businesses, become property owners or increase their savings; all of which are integral to closing the racial wealth gap in the Commonwealth and beyond,” said Nicole Obi, CEO, Black Economic Council of Massachusetts. “I was proud to stand with Rep. Pressley and Sen. Warren to encourage every resident to apply for this transformative relief.”
“Student debt cancellation and the public service loan forgiveness program represent critical relief for nurses and healthcare professionals who are struggling with debt that makes it harder for them to pay for essentials and invest in their future,” said Katie Murphy, a practicing ICU nurse and Massachusetts Nurses Association President. “Patients are sicker than ever, equipment is more advanced, and educational requirements have increased, forcing people to take on tremendous debt just to start a career in caregiving. The debt cancellation advanced by the Biden Administration and supported by Senator Warren and Representative Pressley will strengthen our communities and put the healthcare profession within reach of many who otherwise could not afford it.”
“The Massachusetts Teachers Association and its 115,000 members believes and advocates for high-quality, debt-free public higher education. A first step, championed so brilliantly by Senator Warren and Representative Pressley, is to cancel some of the student debt that has been a destructive burden on millions of Americans. Student debt is a racial and economic justice issue, as the nearly $2 trillion dollars in student debt hurts our working class students and students of color to a greater degree. We are also pleased that the broad coalition led by Senator Warren and Representative Pressley won important changes to the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program, aiding many of our members who would otherwise be paying off loan debt into retirement,” said Max Page, President of the Massachusetts Teachers Association.
A full transcript of Rep. Pressley’s remarks in Boston is available below, and video is available here.
Transcript: Pressley, Warren Kick off Statewide Tour to Sign Up Massachusetts Residents for Student Debt Cancellation
October 25, 2022
REP. PRESSLEY: Before I get to my thought partners, strategic counselor here, first I just want to just talk about the place that we’re in.
Just thank you to the Grove Hall of Boston Public Library.
You have been a tremendous partner on so many issues.
During the pandemic when we needed to connect people to rental assistance, you provided a space for that.
And so just to the entire dedicated team here at Grove Hall, a BPL, we appreciate you and thank you for being incredibly good neighbors and partners in the work of getting information out, from rental assistance now to student debt relief.
I also just want to say how incredible it is to stand here in Grove Hall and the fact that I can just stand here with three Black women that I get to call president.
The President of BECMA, we thank BECMA for their leadership and being partners in this broad coalition.
President Sullivan of the NAACP, the NAACP is a big part of the reason why Pell Grant recipients were included in this. I’ll never forget the day that they stood on the Edmund Pettus Bridge holding signs saying Cancel Student Debt.
They were able to onboard other civil rights organizations as we grew this coalition over the last two years to include borrowers, civil rights organizations, NAACP leading that charge, union families and the presidents of labor unions, again, really just seeking to tell the accurate story and to provide the face of this nearly $2 trillion crisis.
And of course, what a joy it is to be able to refer to you both as Mayor and President.
Kim Janey, we thank you for your leadership.
Every issue you’ve taken on has been about making the road easier and unburdening those who carry the heaviest burdens from fair free transit and expanding those bus lines when you were Mayor, to your role now at EMPath, we thank you.
And I will say when EMPath was the Crittenton Women’s Union, this is actually what introduced me to the crisis of student debt.
Because as I listened actively to the stories of the women there looking to get on a pathway of self-sufficiency, I found that there was a common thread.
And that is that many of them had attended for profit colleges and universities.
And that’s where I first became aware of those deceptive business practices and predatory marketing.
And Senator Warren, you’ve been an incredible leader on that issue, as well.
So, I think all the presidents and I think our senior Senator, who has been my partner in good, and I’m just so grateful for your thought leadership and your strategic counsel.
And, as President Janey so rightly put it to all of you, it is the stories that you shared, that we carried in our hearts, Senator Warren, and I, at every presser, every March, every negotiation, up until the very end.
I want to first center the racial justice components of this.
Black Americans have been locked out of every major federal relief program in this country, from the Homestead Act to the GI Bill, to the New Deal, and of course, disproportionately targeted by redlining.
There have been gains made, Black Americans earn on some instances more income, but we don’t have wealth.
And so Black borrowers borrow at higher rates, 85%, that of our white counterparts, and 65%.
And then we are five times more likely to default on those loans.
And so, when you think about those things that create generational justice, a policy like this student debt relief, and in many instances, cancellation.
This is transformative.
This is generational justice.
This allows those who have been disproportionately locked out to begin to build well to purchase a home.
And we were able to strengthen our hand on negotiations during the pandemic because we fought successfully for those three pandemic pauses on student loan payments.
And we heard most stories of people, many who became first-generation homeowners who were able to purchase essential goods at a time when they needed every single dollar.
And we appealed to the Biden-Harris administration.
Look how game changing this has been just during this short period.
Imagine how more meaningful and transformative this will be with a stroke of a pen when you make student debt relief real.
And so, we thank the Biden-Harris administration for heading the cause of this broad and diverse coalition.
This is a racial justice issue. It is a gender justice issue.
Two thirds of this debt is disproportionately on the shoulders of women.
And it is an economic justice issue impacting people from every walk of life.
Educators who went into debt now raising young families.
They went into debt because they wanted to be nation builders set our babies on the best path and they can’t pay childcare and the monthly minimum.
Some of them risk losing licensure.
I want to talk to you about the fastest growing constituency of borrowers.
50+ senior citizens I met as old as 76 on fixed incomes, who had their benefits garnished, who cried to me, I’m gonna die.
It’s still owing on this.
I haven’t even touched the principal.
I owe more now than I took out.
I want to talk to you about parents, many of them Black parents who took out Parent Plus loans who can’t retire because they’re still paying on the loans they took out for their babies.
I won’t call this student debt forgiveness because borrowers did nothing wrong.
You cannot say that we live in a meritocracy.
Education is life’s great equalizer and put it farther and farther out of reach.
The cost of higher education is increased by 150%.
So finally, not only is this transformational and meaningful and a testament to the strength of this movement and this coalition, because more often than not, government does not lead it response.
And it responded to this movement.
Because we weren’t indefatigable, we did persist.
We were vigilant.
And we kept that fight up because you were worth that fight.
Because not only has this debt been burdensome, because of the economic impacts, but there’s a psychological toll.
And I know about that toll.
This is not something that is abstract for me.
I am one of those Black student borrowers raised in a single parent home, first in the family to go to college since taking on this debt, not even knowing fully what I was taking on.
And I did default on those loans. And I did ultimately pay those loans off. But I carried such shame.
It didn’t matter how hard I worked, I couldn’t get ahead.
To this day, and I know it’s 2022, so very few people have landlines, but I didn’t want a landline because it was such a to hear a ringing phone, just the constant calling the trauma of that.
And so again, I did ultimately pay on those loans.
And you know what, I don’t have any issue with the fact that I paid on those loans.
And now there are people for whom we’re gonna get meaningful relief and cancellation to because that’s what we’re supposed to do.
This is about generational justice and making the road easier.
But the last story I want to share with you is I was meeting with some elders in Cambridge last week and a mother came up to me at the end of our coffee, and she cried, and she said, please tell people that this is bigger than the borrowers.
She said, my daughter, her loans are now going to be zeroed out.
And as a mom, who has struggled in my own life, I felt such a guilt that I couldn’t help her.
And so it wasn’t just her daughter who was burdened and was carrying that shame, her mother was carrying that shame.
So this has really been an inter-generational crisis, in the weight of this debt, but in the shame of this debt.
And so I was joking with us, Senator Warren, as I was looking at these incredible graphics our team came up with, and even though we’re not in a bus, I’m gonna say we’re in a bus, because I said this is a new kind of freedom bus a new type of freedom tram.
Because we’re giving people setting them on a pathway to economic freedom.
And so we need everyone to go to studentaid.gov/debtrelief.
This site has been live now for 10 days, and already 22 million people have signed up, because that is how many people desperately need this relief.
And so that’s why we’re taking this show, this freedom bus if you will, on the road today because it’s not true if you build it they will come, you’ve got to meet people where they are and make sure they know.
For years, Rep. Pressley and Sen. Warren, in partnership with House and Senate colleagues and alongside borrowers, advocates and organizers, have called on President Biden to cancel student debt. Last year, they 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.
Last month, Pressley and Warren joined Biden-Harris Administration officials in unveiling new state state-by-state data on how the President’s plan for student debt cancellation will benefit borrowers in all fifty states, Washington, D.C., and Puerto Rico. According to official estimates, over 813,000 Massachusetts borrowers stand to benefit, including over 400,000 Pell Grant recipients.