Sen. Elizabeth Warren called on university students nationwide Monday during a student media roundtable to push President-Elect Joe Biden to cancel student loan debt upon taking office.
Warren, D-Mass., said Biden could issue an executive order as early as Inauguration Day to cancel up to $50,000 in student debt for students at Ohio University and beyond.
The order would not only be good for the economy, but would help close the racial wealth gap, Warren said. The wealth gaps between Black and white Americans and Latinx and white Americans could each close by 25 and 27 points, respectively.
“Black and Brown students across this country go to college because they believe it's the surest path to build a future for themselves and their families,” Warren said. “They did everything right. But for too many Black and Brown communities, student debt is now just another gigantic roadblock between them and building real wealth.”
Warren said although Biden and Vice President-Elect Kamala Harris won on the “most progressive economic and racial justice platform” ever for a general election nominee, delivering that platform to the American people is the next crucial step.
“You better believe I'm going to be pushing on those things,” Warren said.
College students’ most powerful weapon in ensuring student debt cancelation to be a priority for Biden is their voices, Warren said. She urged students to speak out on social media and uplift stories of what debt cancelation would mean to those around them.
“I'm looking for every avenue I can to lift this issue up, to make sure that we put some energy behind it, because the difference it could make in people's lives would be transformative,” Warren said. “The more we can make this real to more people across the country, the better chance we have of getting it done.”
Warren is also concerned about how students are struggling with food and housing insecurity during the coronavirus pandemic. She said another round of COVID-19 relief would help on that front. Previously, the CARES Act helped the city of Athens provide residents with emergency funds for rent and mortgage payments.
“I started working on the question of student food insecurity long before COVID hit, and now, it has gotten so much worse,” she said. “I'm really worried about what food insecurity (and) housing insecurity in the middle of a pandemic mean for our students. I'm worried about what it means for people all across this nation, and this is a moment when Congress needs to step up and act.”
Warren also took shots at current U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos, saying removing DeVos from her position is the best way to ensure students are prioritized over for-profit, private education options at the federal level.
“It's about having people at the Department of Education who are not putting corporations first, but are putting our students first — in other words, a secretary of education who actually is there to support education for all of our people,” Warren said.
Additional education reform could also come from Warren’s proposal for a wealth tax. That tax on the richest 1/10 of the 1% in America would pay for universal childcare, give $800 billion to schools over 10 years and cancel the student loan debt — all ways to ensure the U.S. can “do it all” in terms of education, as Warren would like.
“We have under-invested in our children over an entire generation,” Warren said. “But investing in young people — investing in their education in their health, their housing, adequate nutrition — that's how we build a future.”