New Jersey Attorney General Gurbir Grewal joined several other state attorneys general in a letter to Congress supporting Congressional Democrats’ request for student loan forgiveness under the Biden Administration on Feb. 19.
Supporters of U.S. Senate Resolution 46 and House of Representatives Resolution 100 are asking President Biden to take executive action and cancel up to $50,000 in federal student loan debt for all federal borrowers under the Higher Education Act.
Proponents say forgiving student loan debt will remedy predatory practices that disproportionately harm people of color, help boost the economy and create a better future for millions of Americans, according to the letter.
PHOTO CAPTION: State Attorney General Gurbir Grewal signed onto a letter last week urging President Biden to sign an executive order canceling up to $50,000 in student loan debt.
The attorneys general of Massachusetts, New York, Connecticut, Delaware, the District of Columbia, Hawaii, Illinois, Maryland, Minnesota, Nevada, New Mexico, New Jersey, Oregon, Vermont, Virginia, Washington and Wisconsin signed the letter in support of the bills.
“Because we are responsible for enforcing our consumer protection laws, we are keenly aware of the substantial burden federal student loan debt places on the residents of our states,” the letter said. “Our offices routinely receive complaints from borrowers who are unable to navigate the abstruse and opaque repayment or forgiveness plans available under current law.”
Student loan borrowers struggled with federal student loan debt prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, and many people owe more than they originally borrowed, according to the letter.
Since March 2020, interest payments on federal student loans have been suspended, and interest rates have been kept at 0%. These measures will be in place until at least September 2021, according to the Department of Education.
Up to one in five federal student loan borrowers are in default and unable to manage their debt due to disability, illness or job loss.
The letter said that federal student loan borrowers are victims of predatory for-profit colleges that tempt students with false promises and leave people with worthless degrees, few job opportunities and insurmountable debt.
“Our Offices have expended substantial resources combatting misconduct by for-profit colleges,” the letter said. “Through these efforts, we know that students who attend for-profit schools are disproportionately likely to suffer dire consequences from the federal student loans they obtain to pay their tuition.”
The attorneys general added that for-profit schools target people of color who are disproportionately represented among students who struggle to pay federal student loans they acquired by attending for-profit schools.
“Student debt cancellation can substantially increase Black and Latinx household wealth and help close the wealth gap,” according to the letter.
When federal student loan borrowers cannot provide repayment for the loans they borrowed, they can face administrative wage garnishment, the takeover of Social Security retirement, disability income and the loss of earned income tax credits, the letter said.
“The existing repayment system for federal student loans provides insufficient opportunity for struggling borrowers to manage their debts or recover from the current economic crisis,” the letter said. “Broad cancellation of federal student loan debt will provide immediate relief to millions who are struggling during the pandemic and recession, and give a much-needed boost to families and our economy.”
The letter also said, “Borrowers deserve and desperately need relief from their Federal student loan burden, and they need that relief immediately.”
Kathryn Roselle can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org