NEW YORK CITY (WROC) — New York Attorney General Letitia James is calling on President Joe Biden to fully cancel federal student debt owed by every federal loan borrower in the county.
In a letter to the president, James — along with a coalition of other state attorneys general in the U.S. — stressed that “immediate relief is needed for borrowers struggling with the unmanageable burden of student loan debt.”
According to the attorneys general, the president has the power to immediately exercise his authority, under the Higher Education Act, to cancel all federal student loan debt for every borrower.
“While I commend President Biden for giving serious consideration to forgiving $10,000 per borrower, we must take bolder, more decisive action to end this crisis and provide Americans with the tools they need to thrive,” said Attorney General James. “Student debt keeps millions of struggling borrowers from reaching financial stability and leads to a cycle of financial burdens that follow them throughout their lives. I join my colleagues in urging President Biden to lead one of the most impactful racial and economic justice initiatives in history by canceling this debt, in its entirety, for all.”
According to the attorney general’s office, student borrowers currently owe more than $1.7 trillion to the federal government. She says the cancelation of debt is “necessary to address the sheer enormity of debts owed, systemically flawed repayment and forgiveness systems, and the disproportionate impact of the debt burden on millions of borrowers.”
Joining James in sending the letter to Biden are the attorneys general of Hawaii, Illinois, Michigan, Minnesota, New Mexico, Puerto Rico, and Washington.
As recently as this weekend, President Biden was considering limiting student loan forgiveness to individuals who make below a specific income, three sources familiar with the issue told The Washington Post.
Officials are looking at limiting cancellation to those making below $125,000 or $150,000 as an individual or $250,000 or $300,000 for couples who file taxes together.
“There’s different proposals floating around the administration about how to structure this,” one person told the Post. “Over the course of the past week especially, administration and congressional staff have focused the conversation on debt cancellation on how to best meet the president’s desire to ensure the most economically vulnerable people with student debt benefit from any action.”
One of the arguments Republicans use against student loan relief is that it will benefit higher income Americans who are capable of paying back their debt.
The sources told the outlet the conversations are still in early stages and plenty of changes may unfold before an official plan is announced.
Since his 2020 presidential campaign, Biden has promised to eliminate at least $10,000 in student debt per borrower, but fellow Democrats and activists are pushing for more ahead of the midterm elections.
Biden has been holding off the issue by continuing to extend the student loan payment freeze that began during the pandemic due to the loss of jobs.
Biden has extended the resumption of payments twice, with borrowers set to begin paying again at the beginning of September.