Skip to Main

March 7, 2024

Pressley Announces Priscilla Valentine, Boston Teacher, First-Gen American, & Student Debt Relief Recipient, as Guest to State of the Union Address

A Daughter of a Colombian Immigrant and Bilingual ESL Teacher for 20+ Years, Priscilla Received $117K of Student Debt Relief Under Public Service Loan Forgiveness

To Date, Biden Administration Has Canceled $138B in Student Debt for Nearly 4 Million Borrowers

WASHINGTON – Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley (MA-07) is honored to welcome Priscilla Higuera Valentine as her guest to President Biden’s State of the Union Address on March 7, 2024. Priscilla is a first generation American, a proud union educator with Boston Public Schools and the Boston Teachers Union, and the daughter of a Colombian immigrant, who has received over $117,000 in student debt relief under the Biden-Harris Administration’s improved Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) Program.

As a leading voice in Congress calling for broad-based student debt cancellation, Rep. Pressley is inviting Priscilla as her guest to uplift her story, honor educators in the Massachusetts 7th, and continue making the case for President Biden to continue to deliver bold, life-changing student debt cancellation for as many borrowers as possible. To date, the Biden-Harris Administration has approved almost $138 billion in student debt cancellation for nearly 4 million borrowers, including 793,000 public servants nationwide and 17,000 public servants in Massachusetts under PSLF.

“Student debt cancellation is life-changing policy that is changing lives today, and Priscilla’s story is a powerful testament to why we must continue delivering this essential relief to as many borrowers as possible,” said Rep. Pressley. “As a Boston Public Schools teacher and Boston Teachers Union member who has dedicated her life to serving students and families in the Massachusetts 7th, I’m so honored to welcome Priscilla as my guest to the State of the Union Address this year. I look forward to highlighting Priscilla’s story and centering the lived experiences of educators, workers, and parents like her. The Biden-Harris Administration have taken historic steps to cancel student debt, our movement for student debt cancellation and economic justice is stronger than ever, and we are not letting up.”

“Having more than $117,000 forgiven at once has opened my family’s world to a life that I could have only dreamed of a year ago. I am now able to save for my children to be able to go to college. I’m building good credit so my husband and I can refinance our mortgage,” said Priscilla Higuera Valentine, Boston Public Schools educator and Boston Teachers Union member. “Congresswoman Pressley has consistently been a champion for educators, students, and working families, and her strong leadership on student debt cancellation and the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program has changed my life. I thank Congresswoman Pressley for her tireless advocacy to cancel student loan debt, and am honored to join her as her guest at the State of the Union.”

“From our educators and school staff who are still struggling to pay off their loans – often coinciding with their own children’s loans – to our high school students applying to colleges they’re unsure they’ll be able to afford, predatory student loans have created a crisis across our communities and dramatically worsened existing inequities within education. Nobody should ever have to enter a decades-long cycle of high-interest debt just for the opportunity to receive an education,” said Jessica Tang, President of the Boston Teachers Union. “Priscilla is a dedicated educator, who deserves to live a life free from the crushing burden of massive predatory student loan debt. Putting predatory lending practices and sky-high interest rates on education stifles our communities, students, schools, and makes it exponentially more difficult for talented educators like Priscilla to answer their calling to serve in public education. We applaud Congresswoman Pressley for being a leading champion of working families and a tireless advocate for educators in her work to cancel student loan debt and remove barriers for educators like Priscilla, including through the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program (PSLFP), which changed her life. We are deeply honored for Priscilla to have received the opportunity to attend the SOTU as a guest of Congresswoman Pressley, and for her story to help shed light on the ongoing student debt crisis and encourage President Biden and his administration to continue working towards canceling crushing student loan debts for all Americans.”

“I am proud to work alongside our BPS educators who show up every day to put the needs of our students first and work incredibly hard to better the lives of our young people in Boston,” said Superintendent Mary Skipper. “Priscilla is a shining example of what it means to be a teacher in BPS. She has taught at the Conley for around a decade and is a pillar of the Conley community. Priscilla is kind, caring, thoughtful, and dedicated to seeing her multilingual learners and the entire Latinx community thrive. We could not ask for a more deserving person to represent Boston Public Schools at President Biden’s State of the Union Address.”

Priscilla is the daughter of an immigrant from Colombia and a bilingual ESL (English as a Second Language) teacher at the Conley Elementary School in Roslindale. She has been a Boston Public Schools teacher for over 20 years, and is a proud member of the Boston Teachers Union, where she also serves as a union representative for her school. As a young, single mom with no safety net, Priscilla took out loans to pursue her Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in order to become a teacher. Like millions of other borrowers living under the crushing pressure of predatory, high-interest student loans, her student loans quickly began to impede her ability to create the life she had worked so hard for, including purchasing a home and saving for her children’s future.

As a last hope at reclaiming her financial stability, Priscilla applied for the Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) program, and ultimately had her entire student loan balance of $117,974.42 wiped out.

At last year’s State of the Union Address, Rep. Pressley was joined by Jaqueline Sanches, a Mattapan resident, early educator, and mother of two.

In 2021, Rep. Pressley was joined virtually by Christina Morris, a Hyde Park resident, union carpenter, and mother of four.

In 2019, Rep. Pressley was joined by Estefany Pineda, a DACA recipient, as her guest to the State of the Union Address. In 2020, she invited Nneka Hall, a professional doula and healthcare justice advocate, as her guest to the State of the Union. In 2020 in the midst of the impeachment trial, the Congresswoman personally boycotted the speech. She also delivered the official response to the 2020 State of the Union Address on behalf of the Working Families Party.

The Boston Teachers Union proudly represents more than 10,000 teachers and other professionals including school nurses, psychologists, guidance counselors, paraprofessionals, and substitute teachers. Together, we advocate for the interests of students, parents and education professionals throughout the Boston Public Schools. We support investment in public education to ensure a stronger future for our students and our city. As a union of educators, we are part of a movement that seeks to improve the quality of life for all working people. We are united against all forms of prejudice and bigotry that would seek to devalue the lives or liberties of our students, families or colleagues.

Rep. Pressley has been a leading voice in Congress urging President Biden to cancel student debt. Following years of advocacy by Rep. Pressley—in partnership with colleagues, borrowers, and advocates—the Biden-Harris Administration announced a historic plan to cancel student debt that stands to benefit over 40 million people.

  • On February 23, 2024, Rep. Pressley applauded the Biden-Harris Administration’s approval of $1.2 billion in student debt cancellation for nearly 153,000 borrowers nationwide, including $19.5 million in cancellation for 2,490 Massachusetts borrowers.
  • On January 26, 2024, Rep. Pressley and Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) led their colleagues in calling on the Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona to host a fourth session of the student debt negotiated rulemaking to consider relief for borrowers experiencing financial hardship. She applauded ED’s announcement that it would heed their calls.
  • On December 11, 2023, Rep. Pressley testified at the U.S. Department of Education’s final hearing on student debt cancellation.
  • On December 11, 2023, Rep. Pressley and Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), along with Senators Chuck Schumer (D-NY), Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Alex Padilla (D-CA), and Representatives Ilhan Omar (MN-05) and Frederica Wilson (FL-24), sent a letter to U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona, urging him to leverage his existing and full authority under the Higher Education Act to provide expanded student debt relief to working and middle-class borrowers. 
  • On November 30, 2023, Rep. Pressley emphasized the crucial role of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) in protecting student loan borrowers from incompetent and predatory student loan servicers.
  • On November 6, 2023, Rep. Pressley joined Attorney General Andrea Campbell, Mayor Michelle Wu, and Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) for a clinic to help federal student loan borrowers access a temporary opportunity to get closer to Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF). 
  • On September 25, 2023, Rep. Pressley hosted a policy discussion with borrowers and advocates at which they renewed their urgent call for student debt cancellation with loan payments set to resume on October 1, 2023.
  • On August 23, 2023, Rep. Pressley, Sen. Warren, and their colleagues led over 80 lawmakers in a letter to President Joe Biden, urging him to swiftly deliver on his promise to deliver student debt cancellation to working and middle class families by early 2024. 
  • On August 22, 2023 Rep. Pressley applauded Governor Maura Healey’s plan to provide student debt relief for health care workers in Massachusetts. 
  • On June 30, 2023, Rep. Pressley responded to the President’s alternative proposal to deliver relief under the Higher Education Act and called for swift and efficient implementation.
  • On June 30, 2023, Rep. Pressley issued a statement slamming the Supreme Court’s decision to block President Biden’s student debt cancellation plan and calling on the President to use other tools available to swiftly cancel student debt.
  • On May 30, 2023, Rep. Pressley filed an amendment to H.R. 3746, legislation to raise the debt ceiling, to protect student loan borrowers and preserve the Biden Administration’s pause on federal student loan payments.
  • On May 24, 2023, Rep. Pressley issued a statement slamming Republicans’ harmful effort to overturn President Biden’s student debt relief, including his debt cancellation plan, the pause on student loan payments, and the expanded Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) program.
  • On May 24, 2023, Rep. Pressley delivered a powerful speech in support of President Biden’s plan to cancel student debt, which would benefit millions of people across the country.
  • On April 5, 2023, Rep. Pressley and Senator Elizabeth Warren wrote to the CEO of SoFi Technologies and SoFi Lending Corp calling on the company to answer for its lawsuits attempting to end the student loan payment pause and force borrowers back into repayment.
  • On March 7, 2023, Rep. Pressley, along with Sens. Warren, Schumer, Sanders, Padilla and Reps. Clyburn, Omar and Wilson led a letter to the Biden Administration expressing continued support for President Biden’s student debt relief plan.
  • On February 28, 2023, Rep. Pressley rallied with borrowers and advocates outside the Supreme Court to call on the Supreme Court to affirm the legality of President Biden’s student debt cancellation plan.
  • On November 22, 2022, Rep. Pressley issued a statement applauding the extension of the student loan payment pause.
  • On October 25, 2022, Rep. Pressley and Senator Warren toured communities across Massachusetts to celebrate the Biden administration’s student debt cancellation plan and help residents sign up for student loan relief.
  • On October 12, 2022, Rep. Pressley joined parent borrowers and advocates for a discussion on the impacts of student debt cancellation on parents and families.
  • On September 29, 2022, Rep. Pressley, along with Senate Majority Leader Schumer and Reps. Omar, Jones and advocates, held a press conference to call for swift and equitable implementation of President Biden’s student debt cancellation plan.
  • On September 21, 2022, Rep. Pressley delivered a powerful speech on the House floor in which she heralded President Biden’s action to cancel student debt for millions of families in the Massachusetts 7th and across the nation. Watch the full video here.
  • On September 12, 2022, Rep. Pressley and Senator Warren wrote to the nine federal student loan servicers to inquire about how they are providing borrowers with accurate and timely information about student loan cancellation.
  • On August 24, 2022, Congresswoman Pressley issued a statement applauding President Biden’s action to cancel student debt.
  • On August 10, 2022, Congresswoman Pressley and Senator Warren Massachusetts joined Massachusetts union leaders in Dorchester for a roundtable discussion on student debt cancellation.
  • On July 18, 2022, Congresswoman Pressley delivered remarks at the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) national convention and renewed her calls for President Biden to cancel student debt by executive action.
  • On July 8, 2022, Congresswoman Pressley with 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. 
  • On June 22, 2022, Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley, with Senator Elizabeth Warren and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, joined AFL-CIO and union leaders for a roundtable discussion on the importance of student debt cancellation for American workers.
  • On May 20, 2022, Congresswoman Pressley applauded the Congressional Black Caucus’ (CBC) statement calling on President Biden to cancel student loan debt.
  • On May 4, 2022, Congresswoman Pressley visited Bunker Hill Community College to celebrate the $1 million in federal community project funding she secured and continued her calls for President Biden to cancel student debt.
  • On March 17, 2022, Congresswoman Pressley and Arisha Hatch, vice president and chief of campaigns at Color of Change, published an op-ed in Grio calling on President Biden to use his executive order authority to cancel up to $50,000 in student loan debt per borrower.
  • On December 8, 2021, Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley, Senator Elizabeth Warren, and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer sent a bicameral letter to President Joe Biden releasing new data about the adverse impact of restarting student loan payments and calling on him to act to cancel up to $50,000 of student debt.
  • On December 2, 2021, Congresswoman Pressley delivered remarks on the House floor in which she reiterated her calls for President Biden to cancel $50,000 in federal student loan debt by executive action.
  • On October 8, 2021, Representatives Ayanna Pressley and Ilhan Omar and their House colleagues sent a letter to President Biden and Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona urging him to release the memo to determine the extent of the administration’s authority to broadly cancel student debt through administrative action.
  • On July 29, 2021, Congresswoman Pressley issued a statement reaffirming President Biden’s authority – and the urgency – to cancel student loan debt.
  • On June 23, 2021, Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley, Senator Elizabeth Warren, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, and Congressman Joe Courtney led their colleagues on a bicameral letter to President Biden calling on him to extend the pause on federal student loan payments.
  • On April 13, 2021, Congresswoman Pressley testified at a Senate Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs Committee’s Subcommittee on Economic Policy hearing to examine the student loan debt crisis in our country.
  • On April 1, 2021, Congresswoman Pressley, along with Senator Elizabeth Warren and Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey, held a press conference calling on President Biden to tackle the student loan debt crisis.
  • On February 4, 2021, Congresswoman Pressley, along with several Democratic House and Senate leaders, led their colleagues in reintroducing a bicameral resolution outlining a bold plan for President Biden to tackle the student loan debt crisis. 
  • On December 17, 2020, Representatives Ayanna Pressley, Ilhan Omar, Maxine Waters, and Alma Adams introduced a resolution outlining a bold plan for President-elect Joe Biden to cancel up to $50,000 in Federal student loan debt for student loan borrowers.
  • On December 10, 2020, Congresswoman Pressley was in Yahoo Finance urging the Biden administration to cancel student debt, stressing the impact on Black borrowers.
  • On May 8, 2020, Representatives Ayanna Pressley, Alma Adams, and Ilhan Omar, led 28 of their colleagues and sent a letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy calling for the universal, one-time, student debt cancellation of at least $30,000 per borrower in the next round of COVID-19 relief legislation.
  • On March 23, 2020, Representatives Ayanna Pressley and Ilhan Omar introduced the Student Debt Emergency Relief Act, legislation that provides immediate monthly payment relief for federal student loan borrowers.
  • On March 17, 2020, Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley and Senator Elizabeth Warren were on The Hill calling on congressional leadership to include student debt cancellation in the next coronavirus relief package.
  • On October 11, 2019, Congresswoman Pressley introduced legislation – the Ending Debt Collection Harassment Act – to protect consumers from abusive debt collection.
  • On July 17, 2019, Congresswomen Pressley introduced legislation – the Student Borrower Credit Improvement Act – to provide much needed support to private student loan borrowers with a pathway to financial stability by helping them improve their credit.