President Biden's student debt cancellation plan would provide immediate relief to 40 million families through the cancellation of $400 billion in federal student loan debt—but it has been stalled by lawsuits by Republicans officials. On Tuesday, while the case was heard by the Supreme Court, hundreds of students rallied on the steps, while lawmakers and others spoke. All demanded that justices recognize the legality of Biden's efforts to help educators and others, saddled with crushing debt.
NEA President Becky Pringle
"For decades we have struggled with a student debt crisis that...crushes the dreams of millions of Americans," NEA President Becky Pringle told the crowd amassed at the Supreme Court on Tuesday. This debt has made it more difficult for inspired students to become educators themselves, and the decision to delay cancellation "is just another blow to those who would become educators," she said. "Today, we call on the Supreme Court to allow student debt cancellation to be implemented and for relief to be granted for the more than 40 million eligible borrowers, once and for all. Those are our demands!" (Photo: Sam Dunietz)
Biden's cancellation program, which he announced in April 2022, would provide up to $20,000 in debt relief to individuals. Already 26 million people have applied and 16 million been approved. The plan comes on top of Biden's improvements to the Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) program, which last year forgave the debt of more than 360,000 educators and public service workers. (Photo: Andrew Tawes)
U.S. Rep. Ayanna Pressley
"I woke up this morning with a lot on my mind, thinking about the teacher who left the profession they loved because they couldn’t make those student loan payments and manage childcare costs for their son," U.S. Rep. Ayanna Pressley, D-MA, told the crowd. "When we start with the people, the policy is clear. The people demand and deserve student debt cancellation. Student debt cancellation will save and change lives—that is why President Biden took action!" (Photo: Andrew Tawes)
The young people who came to the Supreme Court steps from as far away as Ohio talked about the student debt they will carry—maybe for the rest of their lives. It weighs on them. Prevents them from buying homes or pursuing careers that make a difference—like teaching—but don't pay enough to pay down their debt. Many of the students there were Black. Data shows Black students borrow more, on the whole, because of racist policies like redlining that made it impossible for their grandparents to buy homes and build family wealth. (Photo: Andrew Tawes)
A parade of lawmakers spoke to the crowd at the Supreme Court, including U.S. Senators Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Bernie Sanders (I-VT), and Bob Menendez (D-NJ), and U.S. Reps. Pramila Jayapal (D-WA) and Judy Chu (D-CA). "Over 1 million people in my state would benefit from having their student loan debt canceled if this initiative would be able to move forward. That is why I’m here today," said U.S. Rep. Maxwell Alejandro Frost (D-FL). "You want to ask me about my politics? This isn’t about Democrat versus Republican, it’s about the people versus the problem. My politics is about you living your best life and in order to do that you need the resources to tap into opportunity." (Photo: Andrew Tawes)
By working to cancel student debt and improve forgiveness programs, we can make sure everybody who wants to learn and grow can do so—without exceptions.