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- Sen. Elizabeth Warren rolled out a plan on Tuesday pledging to start forgiving the US’s $1.6 trillion in student loan debt on the first day of her presidency without Congress.
- Last year, Warren put forward a plan to forgive a substantial amount of student loan debt for millions of Americans.
- Warren now pledges to achieve her student loan forgiveness plan through the Department of Education, citing existing legal powers.
- The plan would likely run into opposition in Congress, where Republicans and even some Democrats are wary of its high costs.
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Sen. Elizabeth Warren said on Tuesday that she would circumvent Congress and start cancelling the nation’s $1.6 trillion in student debt on “day one” as president. She would draw upon her executive power to do so.
Warren’s $640 billion loan forgiveness plan – rolled out last year – would slash up to $50,000 in debt for student loan borrowers making less than $100,000. It’s also designed to gradually forgive debt for people earning up to $250,000.
Her campaign pointed to a new six-page analysis from the Harvard Law School’s Legal Services Center, which found that debt relief for students is “a lawful and permissible use of the authority Congress has conferred on the Secretary of Education.”
“Understand this: The Department of Education has broad authority to end the student loan debt crisis,” Warren said in a tweet. “When I’m president, I plan to use that authority.”
Federal data shows that the share of student debt has doubled over the past decade from $700 billion to $1.6 trillion, overtaking credit cards and car loans as the biggest share of debt held by 45 million Americans. The average college student graduates with at least $30,000 in debt, CNBC reported.
Warren’s plan puts additional daylight between her and Sen. Bernie Sanders on the issue of tackling the nation’s mounting student loan debt – a priority among progressives. The Vermont senator, however, put forward a more sweeping plan last year that would cancel everyone’s student debt regardless of their annual income.
The Sanders campaign did not respond to a request for comment on whether they would also bypass Congress to enact their student loan forgiveness plan.
Cancelling student loan debt without Congress – or any kind of debt – would likely run into strong congressional opposition among Republicans and even some Democrats wary of its high cost.
Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, a Trump appointee, has previously called the Sanders and Warren proposals of forgiving student loan debt “crazy.”
A Quinnipiac poll last year, though, found that 57% of Americans backed Warren’s student loan policies.