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101 Organizations Agree: Congress Needs to Cancel Student Debt

Wednesday, July 15, 2020
Ashley Harrington

Student Debt Cancellation Will Boost the Economy and Create Jobs

Washington, D.C. — Today, 101 civil rights, consumer and advocacy organizations and think tanks sent a joint letter to House and Senate leadership, urging them to include student debt cancellation in the next economic stimulus package.

Led by Center for Responsible Lending, American for Financial Reform, Demos, and Freedom to Prosper, the letter stresses the ways that if left unaddressed, the student debt trap will deepen our current recession, slow our economic recovery, exacerbate inequality, and deepen a crisis already facing Black and brown borrowers and families. Signers include the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, the American Federation of Teachers, NAACP, Indivisible, the National Urban League, the National Education Association, and the Center for Law and Social Policy.

Student debt cancellation offers a much more effective solution than short-term payment suspension alone. It will boost state and local economies and create jobs — at a time when millions of families across the nation desperately need help making ends meet.

Including student debt cancellation as part of the next coronavirus response bill would put borrowers and their families on better financial footing, provide an immediate economic boost, advance racial equity, relieve strain on other federal and state programs, and accelerate recovery.

“Even without experiencing a major public health crisis, or a recession, student debt exacerbates existing systemic inequities and racial disparities,” said Ashley Harrington, Federal Advocacy Director at the Center for Responsible Lending. “This is why substantial relief for the more than 44 million student borrowers already in repayment is so desperately needed. Moving forward, any legislation enacted during the pandemic must include broad universal debt cancellation for all borrowers, including private and federal student loan holders, to ensure that the most vulnerable borrowers such as borrowers of color experience the benefits of cancellation. Student debt relief is minuscule compared to the relief used to bail out big companies during the Financial Crisis.”

“As the economy reels, jobs remain hard to come by, and people are faced with extraordinary hardships the federal government could provide immediate relief and enable a more widespread and equitable recovery by cancelling student debt,” said Alexis Goldstein, Senior Policy Analyst at Americans for Financial Reform. “Cancelling student debt is an incredibly powerful tool Congress has to reduce inequality and provide dramatic relief to communities of color hit hardest by the pandemic”

“Well before this pandemic began, America was facing a student debt crisis that was borne primarily by Black and brown borrowers and their families,” said Mark Huelsman, Associate Director of Policy & Research at Demos. “Given our current economic and public health crises, in a moment when policymakers have an opportunity to put real investments behind statements of racial justice, removing the burden of student debt is a no-brainer.”

Mary Swig of Freedom to Prosper said, “We know student debt cancellation will boost our economy and put money back in the pockets of families at a time when they need it the most. This shouldn’t be a political issue, and Congress should work together to put the American people first.”

View the original letter to Congress and the list of organizations is below:

National Groups
20/20 Vision
Action Center on Race and the Economy
Alianza Nacional de Campesinas
Allied Progress
American Association of University Women (AAUW)
American Federation of Teachers
Americans for Financial Reform
Asian Pacific American Labor Alliance, AFL-CIO
Bend the Arc: Jewish Action
Campaign for America’s Future
Center for Digital Democracy
Center for Economic Integrity
Center for Justice & Democracy
Center for Responsible Lending
Center for Law and Social Policy
Clearinghouse on Women’s Issues
Color of Change
Consumer Federation of America
Consumer Reports
The Debt Collective
Demand Progress
Democracy for America
Demos
Dream Corps
Economic Opportunity Institute
The Education Trust
Empowering Pacific Islander Communities (EPIC)
Feminist Majority Foundation
Freedom to Prosper
Generation Progress
Greenpeace USA
Habitat for Humanity
Hildreth Institute
Indivisible
Laotian American National Alliance
The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights
NAACP
National Association of Consumer Advocates
National Association of Consumer Bankruptcy Attorneys (NACBA)
National Center for Law and Economic Justice
National Consumer Law Center (on behalf of its low-income clients)
National Education Association
National Equality Action Team (NEAT)
National Hispanic Media Coalition
National Network for Youth
National Urban League
National Women’s Law Center
National Workrights Institute
National Young Farmers Coalition
THE ONE LESS FOUNDATION
Our Revolution
PCUN
People’s Action
People’s Parity Project
PFLAG National
PHENOM (Public Higher Education Network of Massachusetts)
Progressive Change Campaign Committee
Progressive Democrats of America
Protect All Children’s Environment
Public Citizen
Public Justice Center
Public Law Center
Rebuild The Dream
Sikh American Legal Defense and Education Fund (SALDEF)
Social Security Works
Student Action
Student Borrower Protection Center
Student Debt Crisis
Tax March
Young Invincibles

State and Local Groups
AKPIRG
Arkansas Community Institute
Arkansas Community Organizations
CAFE Montgomery MD
California Association of Nonprofits
CASH Campaign of Maryland
Center for Charlotte Legal Advocacy
Central Florida Jobs with Justice
Convencion Bautista Hispana de Texas
Delaware Community Reinvestment Action Council, Inc.
East Bay Community Law Center
Equality North Carolina
Georgia Watch
Indivisible San Diego District 53
Just-A-Start Corporation
Lawrence CommunityWorks
Little Rock Branch NAACP
Maryland Consumer Rights Coalition (MCRC)
Massachusetts Affordable Housing Alliance
Missouri Faith Voices
Montana Organizing Project
New Georgia Project
New Jersey Citizen Action
New Jersey Tenants Organization
NextGen California
Pennsylvania Council of Churches
Tennessee Citizen Action
Tzedek DC
Virginia Organizing
Wisconsin Faith Voices for Justice
The Women’s Resource of Greater Houston

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Press Contact: matthew.kravitz@responsiblelending.org