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NJCA Praises Menendez, Booker, Sires and Watson Coleman For Co-Sponsoring Bicameral Resolution To Cancel Student Debt; Remainder Of The NJ Congressional Delegation Must Do The Same

Insider NJ — February 4, 2021

Newark, NJ — New Jersey Citizen Action (NJCA) applauds Senators Menendez and Booker, and Representatives Watson Coleman and Sires for co-sponsoring a bicameral resolution urging President Biden to take executive action canceling up to $50,000 in federal student loan debt using legal authorities already granted by Congress. The rest of the New Jersey Delegation must follow suit and provide immediate financial relief to more than a million New Jerseyans and tens of millions more Americans who struggle under student debt. This action would also provide a crucial economic stimulus and boost job creation during this unprecedented crisis.

"The great American tradition of higher education for all has devolved into a debt trap for all," said Beverly Brown Ruggia, NJCA Director of Financial Justice Programs. "In New Jersey alone, students and their families owe upwards of $43 Billion in student debt. The significant cancellation proposed in this resolution is a critical step in ending the devastating impact that student debt has on the overall economy and on the lives of millions of Americans, young and old. Furthermore, this cancellation serves as urgently needed relief for the COVID-19 crisis. It is an investment in workforce competitiveness, short-term aid, and long-term economic stability."

Through the administrative authority of the Education Department, President Biden can cancel debt for many of the more than 43 million borrowers and their families who collectively hold $1.7 trillion in student debt. In response to the pandemic, the previous administration used this authority to suspend payments and student loan interest, and to make 10 months of nonpayment count toward existing federal forgiveness programs, such as Public Service Loan Forgiveness. The Biden administration has extended these temporary protections.

With this resolution, Senators Chuck Schumer and Elizabeth Warren are sending a strong message that the Biden administration must take longer lasting actions to end student debt, which has a disproportionate impact on women and Black and Brown student borrowers, exacerbates existing racial inequities and the racial wealth gap, increases negative mental and physical health outcomes, and is a crippling weight on our economy and workforce competitiveness. Representatives Ayanna Pressley, Ilhan Omar, Alma Adams and Maxine Waters, the House Financial Services Committee chairwoman, have introduced a companion resolution.

"The fallout of COVID-19 has revealed and deepened many serious systemic problems, and student debt is no exception. The $1.7 trillion national student debt crisis does not amount to dreams deferred, it amounts to dreams and lives destroyed. We thank Senator Menendez, Senator Booker, Congresswoman Watson Coleman and Congressman Sires for recognizing this sad truth. We urge the rest of the New Jersey House delegation to follow suit and sign onto the resolution. From there Congress can address the unsustainable costs, lending practices and systemic issues that led to this debt crisis and prevent it from happening again," added Brown Ruggia.

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