Democratic 2020 U.S. presidential candidate and U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) speaks to supporters in Memphis, Tennessee, U.S. March 17, 2019. Warren, who unveiled the plan in a piece posted on Medium, plans to pay for the plan with her Ultra-Millionaire Tax, a 2 percent annual tax on 75,000 families with $50 million or more in wealth. And while it may be hard to feel much sympathy for anyone making over $250,000 a year, individuals in high-earning professions can carry massive, life-altering student debt loads.
Warren's new plan would forgive $50,000 in student loans for Americans in households earning less than $100,000 a year.
Student debt and college affordability have become a key dividing line in the Democratic race, between more progressive candidates who favor sweeping new tuition and student-loan benefits and others who support more incremental adjustments to the way Americans pay for education.
Her proposed policy would cancel up t0 $50,000 of student debt for individual Americans.
"College shouldn't just be a privilege for those who can afford to take on the significant expenses associated with higher education", she wrote.
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Students who attended private colleges and universities would also be eligible - but the federal government would work with borrowers and holders of those debts to provide relief, Warren said. Federal agencies have calculated in the past that the current $1.5 trillion of outstanding student loans could be impacting consumer spending and demand for mortgages - so canceling many of those loans could indeed goose the economy. Kirsten Gillibrand, another presidential contender, all signed on as co-sponsors of Sanders' 2017 College for All Act, which would have allocated $47 billion annually to states to cover two-thirds of the tuition obligation, leaving states responsible for the rest. Households making between $100,000 and $250,000 would receive partial debt cancellation; as the Daily Beast noted, the cancellation amount would then decline by "a dollar for every three dollars in income" above that $100,000 threshold, while households making over $250,000 would not receive any relief.
Warren explained that in order to keep debt out of the system, her plan would make public colleges free. She wants to invest an additional $100 billion in Pell grants over the next 10 years, making them available to more students and increasing the size of the award.
Late last week, she distinguished herself by becoming the first major candidate to call for impeachment proceedings against President Donald Trump after the release of special counsel Robert S. Mueller III's report on Russian interference in the 2016 election. They do not need to be paid back.
But other candidates - including Sen.
Warren, who has championed higher-education-overhaul bills during her time in the Senate, is firmly staking out ground with the more liberal wing of the Democratic Party. Warren's plan creates an incentive to get a degree that isn't needed for most high-demand career paths. She would also create a fund of at least $50 billion specifically for historically black colleges and universities.