Call Upon the Biden Administration to Cancel $50,000 of student debt for all students
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Dear President Biden,
At the outset, we would like to congratulate you on your inauguration as the 46th President of the United States. We know we can speak for countless students and younger citizens across the country in our excitement for what your administration will accomplish over the next four years. We are confident that under your leadership, you will lead the country to defeat the Coronavirus Pandemic, provide economic justice for all citizens and put forth strong policies that will begin to deconstruct systemic racism in the United States. We believe that the United States is at a historic turning point and that bold, aggressive, once in a generation type action is absolutely necessary to address all the challenges that lie before us.
One of the most pressing issues facing our respective constituencies is the 1.6 trillion dollar student debt crisis that has plagued our nation for many years. We applaud your commitment to ending this crisis through making public colleges free for millions of students, expanding Pell grants as well as your recent executive actions on loan deferrals due to the pandemic. We know that you care deeply about this issue and are willing to take direct action to solve the root causes of this issue. College tuition rates have grown at 8% year over year and are currently increasing at a rate of 8 times higher than the average wage. Since 1980, the price of college tuition at private and public institutions has increased by a collective 260% while the average consumer item has only increased by 120% over that same time frame. This continuous growth of tuition costs has forced millions of students to take out a vast amount of student loans to the point where the average amount of debt per student sits at $30,000, including an average of $52,000 for students of color. This debt has led to current and past college students suffering irreparable economic harm where they are unable to afford rent, purchase a home, start a business and have access to any form of social mobility. This harm has not only negatively impacted students themselves, but the overall economy itself by reducing consumer spending opportunities, lowering long term savings and hindering students ability to start families and build wealth. This trend is looking like it will continue even in the midst of a pandemic where many universities, including high profile institutions such as Harvard, Yale and the University of Texas have pushed ahead with scheduled tuition increases even while offering a more watered down educational experience. This watered down experience includes lessened resources for mental health and academic tutoring, online classes, technological disruptions and lessened access to faculty “office hours”
Due to all these factors, we humbly request that your administration utilize the power of executive authority to enact Congressional plans to cancel $50,000 worth of debt for all students regardless of income and regardless of the type of college they attended. We believe that the various academic, social and health related services that have been reduced or eliminated by universities during these past three semesters equal the $50,000 that we request. This action would be a crucial first step in reversing this crisis by eliminating the debt of millions of students while also cutting in half the debt balance of millions more. Further, this action would also begin to make a positive impact on the ever growing racial wealth gap in the United States because over 84% of black students take out federal student loans compared to 67% for white students. We believe this amount adequately addresses the underlying nature of the student debt crisis while addressing the lost educational value that students have experienced over this past year.
Not only would this action provide economic relief, but it would also provide widespread economic growth that could be the perfect kickstart to recovery. According to studies by Moody’s and the Levy Economics Institute, student debt forgiveness of this magnitude could bring over 100 billion dollars into the economy every year for the foreseeable future. This action could also lead to a stronger housing market as well as the growth in retirement savings for our generation which has been stifled from doing so because of student loans.
We believe that using executive action is the best way to approach this cause because it will allow for millions of students to have immediate access to relief and because we do not feel that legislation on student debt would be able to pass through congress given its current make up. Canceling student debt via executive order also has support from a broad array of democrats from Ayanna Pressley to Chuck Schumer. We feel that this action is a major chance to unify the country while being able to provide necessary relief to struggling students. We humbly request a meeting with you and your administration at your earliest convenience to discuss this proposal further and bring forth the concerns of the thousands of students that we represent.
We thank you very much for your attention on this matter and wish you and your administration the best in the days ahead.
Anthony John “AJ” Polcari
Student Body Co-President, University of Richmond
Student Body Co President, University of Richmond
Student Government President, Allen University
Student Government President, Michigan State University
Student Body President, Lamar University
Student Government President, Council of Commonwealth Student Governments at the Pennsylvania State University
President, Rutgers University
Outreach Director, National Council of Student Leaders
Director, National Council of Student Leaders
Chief of Staff, National Council of Student Leaders
Communications Director, National Council of Student Leaders
Co-Founder, The Decency Project
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