Attorneys general from 17 US states sent a letter to congressional leaders Friday expressing support for a student loan debt forgiveness program up to $50,000. The letter, spearheaded by Maura Healey of Massachusetts and Letitia James of New York, is in support of Senate Resolution 46 and House Resolution 100. Both resolutions call on President Joe Biden to cancel federal student loan debt through executive action.
The letter highlights the particular struggles many borrowers are facing, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic. Declaring bankruptcy is not a viable option for struggling borrowers because “[f]ederal student loans are not dischargeable except under extremely narrow circumstances.”
The letter then calls out for-profit colleges, stating that such colleges “lure students with false promises and leave them with worthless degrees, few job prospects, and insurmountable debt.”
Additionally, the attorneys argue that predatory loan practices have “disproportionately harmed people of color,” and canceling debt would “substantially increase Black and Latinx household wealth and help close the racial wealth gap.” The letter echoes arguments raised in the Senate and House resolutions.
Student loan debt forgiveness has been a major platform issue for Democrats, with American borrowers collectively owing more than $1.5 trillion in student loan debt. Biden has expressed support for canceling $10,000 in student loan debt but is facing pressure from top Democrats to forgive up to $50,000.
Biden has also indicated that he would prefer to address student debt through legislation rather than executive action. But Senate Resolution 46 and House Resolution 100 both state that the secretary of education can cancel student loan debt under the Higher Education Act of 1965, adding support for Biden using executive action to cancel student loan debt.