Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) shared a comprehensive higher-education plan that includes a pitch to cancel student-loan debt, offer universal free public college and funding for historically black colleges and universities on Monday.
"Student loan debt is crushing millions of families. That's why I'm calling for something truly transformational: Universal free college and the cancellation of debt for more than 95% of Americans with student loan debt," the senator tweeted along with a personal essay on Medium.com.
In her post, Warren explained how college changed her life. "Higher education opened a million doors for me," she wrote. "It’s how the daughter of a janitor in a small town in Oklahoma got to become a teacher, a law school professor, a U.S. Senator, and eventually, a candidate for President of the United States.
She went on to criticize the government for letting the debt crisis continue as affordable access to higher education declined in America.
Warren added, "We got into this crisis because state governments and the federal government decided that instead of treating higher education like our public school system — free and accessible to all Americans — they’d rather cut taxes for billionaires and giant corporations and offload the cost of higher education onto students and their families. The student debt crisis is the direct result of this failed experiment."
The key points from the plan are listed below:
- It cancels $50,000 in student loan debt for every person with household income under $100,000.
- It provides substantial debt cancellation for every person with household income between $100,000 and $250,000. The $50,000 cancellation amount phases out by $1 for every $3 in income above $100,000, so, for example, a person with household income of $130,000 gets $40,000 in cancellation, while a person with household income of $160,000 gets $30,000 in cancellation.
- It offers no debt cancellation to people with household income above $250,000 (the top 5%).
- For most Americans, cancellation will take place automatically using data already available to the federal government about income and outstanding student loan debt.
- Private student loan debt is also eligible for cancellation, and the federal government will work with borrowers and the holders of this debt to provide relief.
- Canceled debt will not be taxed as income.
This setup will provide total student-debt elimination for more than 75 percent of Americans, and relief to 95 percent. In addition, Warren proposed that every American have the chance to attend a two-year or four-year public college for free and making them more inclusive to low-income families and minorities.
The 2020 presidential hopeful suggested the nation rectify the racial injustices and inequalities within the higher education system. For the first time in American history, she also proposed given federal money to help HBCUs. Warren wants to put at least $50 billion into "a fund for Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) and Minority-Serving Institutions (MSIs)."
There will also be a reward system for states that demonstrate the inclusion of minorities and lower-income families and a ban of federal dollars to for-profit colleges that exploit these groups.
Wiping out the student-loan debt and offering up universal education is just one of Warren's ambitious policy proposals. According to Current Affairs, the Democrat also proposed comprehensive child-care coverage, a corporate profits tax and dismantling large tech companies. Although there is no concrete plan for reparations, the senator said she is open to figuring out a way to address the "stain" on American history.