Sen. Elizabeth Warren recently released a game-changing plan to confront America’s $1.5 trillion student debt crisis, a crisis that two-thirds of voters believe is threatening our economy.
Warren’s plan would cancel debt for more than 95% of the nearly 45 million Americans with student loan debt. And the plan’s investment in public higher education would ensure that we never end up in this opportunity-thwarting situation again.
For the millions of Americans graduating from college this month, the joy of this achievement is matched by anxiety over how they will pay their student loan debt. That is where Warren’s plan comes in — it gives the current generation a chance at financial health while prospectively enabling more people to access a degree and the opportunities that come with it, without facing a “debt sentence.”
The public largely supports the plan. A recent poll showed 64% of voters approve of Warren’s proposal and another showed that more than half of voters who have never even taken out student loans approve.
But some critics of Warren’s plan have argued that it’s wasteful to provide student debt relief to professionals and those trying to make it in the middle class. The notion that teachers, nurses and other professionals are less burdened by student loan debt is flat-out wrong. Educators and healthcare workers who are expected or required to get advanced degrees have higher and higher unsustainable debt. For example, the average student loan for a master’s degree in education jumped 82% between 2002 and 2012, And one study found that those who earned a master’s in education had more student loan debt than those who earned an MBA.
Trump is making relief impossible
I lead a union of 1.7 million teachers, nurses and other public service workers. And I hear constantly from members about their student loan debt: new educators who can’t stay in the profession because they can’t afford to pay their loans and put food on the table on a teacher’s salary; experienced professionals who can’t retire because they’re still paying off their debt; teachers and nurses whose licenses are threatened because they’re in default; adjuncts with advanced degrees, a mountain of debt and poverty wages; and countless members who tell me they’ll be paying off their loans until they die.