- Hollis Johnson/Business Insider
- On Tuesday, New York representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez made a student loan payment while sitting in on a House Financial Services Committee hearing. Ocasio-Cortez also revealed she still has $19,000 worth of loans to pay off.
- Ocasio-Cortez used the moment to urge her fellow representatives to act on finding solutions for the more than $1.5 trillion worth of American student loan debt. Ocasio-Cortez is one of 68 Congressional members currently paying off student loans, according to Roll Call.
- Since entering Congress, Ocasio-Cortez has been one of the most vocal critics of the current US student loan system and has helped make the topic a top priority in the Democratic party.
- Multiple Democratic presidential candidates, including Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren, have called for partially or eliminating student debt.
During a House Financial Services Committee Hearing on Tuesday, New York representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez did something nearly 50 million Americans do regularly: she made a payment on her student loan.
Ocasio-Cortez graduated from Boston University in 2011 with a degree in economics and international relations. At the time Boston University tuition and room and board totaled $39,314. She informed her Congressional colleagues of the payment while giving her opening remarks, according to USA Today. In the process, the first-year representative noted that she has just under $20,000 worth of loans to pay off before she’ll be debt-free.
“I literally made a student loan payment while I was sitting here at this chair, and I looked at my balance, and it was $20,237.16,” Ocasio-Cortez said during the hearing. “I just made a payment that took me down to $19,000 so I feel really accomplished right now.”
Ocasio-Cortez used her personal experience to serve as a launching pad for a speech urging Congress to address soaring US student debt, which has collectively ballooned to nearly $1.6 trillion.
“This is our job,” she said.
“It was literally easier for me to become the youngest woman elected to Congress than it is to pay off my student loan debt.”
The New York representative has been one of the most vocal critics of what some have referred to as a student debt crisis. Ocasio-Cortez has used her immense following to help catapult student loan debt to the front of the Democratic political agenda. Multiple Democratic presidential candidates, including Elizabeth Warren, Bernie Sanders, Kamala Harris, and Pete Buttigieg, have all announced they would support policies that would limit, or in some cases eliminate, student debt. Buttigieg is also still paying off student loan debt.
In past conversations highlighting the difficulties graduates face in paying off their loans, Ocasio-Cortez has said it was “literally easier for [her] to become the youngest woman elected to Congress than it is to pay off [her] student loan debt.”
.@AOC on bill to eliminate all student debt: "It was literally easier for me to become the youngest woman in American history elected to Congress than it is to pay off my student loan debt." https://t.co/l2DVQXrQic pic.twitter.com/fhxvtNtvhg
— Evan McMurry (@evanmcmurry) June 24, 2019
While her voice may be the most prominent, Ocasio-Cortez isn’t the only US lawmaker with a personal stake in reducing student loan debt. According to Roll Call, 44 Democrats and 24 Republicans are currently paying off loans worth $2.5 million altogether.
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