Schumer leads plan to erase student loan debt with Biden’s executive powers


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Emanuela Gallo, Editor-in-Chief

U.S. Sen. and majority leader Chuck Schumer is leading an initiative for President Joe Biden to use his executive authority to cancel up to $50,000 in student loan debt per student.

Any loan that is federal or federally backed falls under this plan. It would also apply to debt taken on by a student’s parents. Student loans make up 93% of education debt, according to the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System.

“For far too many students, and to so many graduates many years out of school, federal student loans and student loans in general are becoming a forever burden,” Schumer said during a phone call with NY college students. “It’s across the country. It’s across our state.”

Schumer said that Biden and Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona have the administrative powers to cancel student loan debt under the Higher Education Act.

An executive order by Biden would bypass the need for bipartisan congressional approval.

“It means we don’t have to go through Congress,” he said. “We don’t have to worry about 60 votes. [Biden and Cardona] can do this on their own.”

According to Schumer, 2.4 million New Yorkers owe $89.5 billion in federal student loans. The average amount of student loan debt is $38,000 for New York City residents and $34,000 for New York State residents.

“NY numbers are higher than the national average,” he said. “The issue of student loan debt is particularly relevant to NY since we are affected worse than many other states.”

There is nearly $1.6 trillion in student loan debt in the United States, which is larger than credit card and car debt.

“College should be a ladder up,” he said. “But student debt often weighs students down. It’s an anchor down and we have to do something about it. It wasn’t this way 10 or 15 years ago. It’s got much, much worse.”

Schumer’s reasoning behind this plan is rooted in how debt influences students’ lives.

“It affects their abilities,” he said. “What kind of job they get, some of them will delay starting a family, many will have to delay purchases of necessities like a car or living in the place they want to live because of rent. It totally discombobulates people’s lives.”

He argued that the cancellation of debt will help boost the economy.

“Instead of paying $400 a month to the federal government, younger people and middle-aged people who still have debt will use that money to go out to restaurants, to go on vacation, to buy a car or an appliance,” he said.

Schumer and Sen. Elizabeth Warren, who is also leading the plan, have met with Biden.

According to Schumer, Biden is considering the plan and is supportive of Schumer and Warren’s campaign. However, he is hesitant about using an executive order and is more in favor of passing legislation.

“If the president should reject it, we will try to pass it legislatively, but it’s a lot easier for him to just sign the executive order,” he said. “But we will not give up if he fails to sign the order. If he says $10,000, we’ll try to get the next $40,000 by legislation.”

He and a number of senators have made a resolution urging Biden to execute the plan.

Schumer stated that Senate Democrats are also looking at ways to reduce the cost of college before more students take on debt.

The push to cancel student loan debt comes after the American Rescue Plan, which was recently passed by the Biden administration. Included in this bill was a provision that made student loan forgiveness tax-free until 2026.

Additionally, the bill put $2.6 billion toward New York colleges and universities to address challenges due to the pandemic. Half of the amount allocated to each school must be distributed to students in the form of financial aid awards.