Joint Statement: Over 415 Orgs Call on President Biden to Cancel Federal Student Debt Immediately using Executive Action


April 13, 2020


Alexis Goldstein;
Carol Parish

Over 415 Orgs Call on President Biden to Cancel Federal Student Debt Immediately using Executive Action

Washington, D.C. — Today, over 415 organizations sent an updated letter to President Biden and Vice President Harris, calling on them to use executive authority to cancel federal student debt immediately.

In the letter, the 416 advocacy groups highlight that cancelling student debt would stimulate the economy, help reduce racial wealth gaps, and could have a positive impact on health outcomes. The groups write that “executive action is one of the few available tools that could immediately provide a boost to upwards of 44 million borrowers and the economy.” Further, this action would be an important first step in advancing the President’s campaign priorities to ensure racial equity, focus on economic recovery, and deliver COVID-19 relief. 

The letter, first sent in November and then again in January, has been updated with more than 80 additional signers. 

The broad and diverse coalition advocating for this urgent action include (new signers in bold): 

ACLU, Center for American Progress, American Federation of Teachers, Association of Latino Administrators and Superintendents, National Education Association, The Education Trust, Color Of Change, Hispanic Federation, JFI – Jain Family Institute, Hip Hop Caucus, League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC), NAACP, National Action Network, National Council of Asian Pacific Americans (NCAPA), National Indigenous Women’s Resource Center, National Urban League, UnidosUS, Poverty & Race Research Action Council, New Georgia Project Action Fund, American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME), Association of Flight Attendants-CWA, Communications Workers of America, SEIU, UE (United Electrical, Radio and Machine Workers of America), Family Equality, the National Center for Lesbian Rights, National Women’s Law Center, the American Psychological Association, Council on Social Work Education, National League for Nursing, National Disability Rights Network, American Association of University Professors (AAUP),, Greenpeace, Sunrise Movement, Minority Veterans of America, National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition, National Young Farmers Coalition, Main Street Alliance, National Fair Housing Alliance, MoveOn, Indivisible, MomsRising, the United States Student Association, African American Ministers In Action, Bend the Arc: Jewish Action, Pennsylvania Council of Churches, the Faith in Action National Network, and the National Advocacy Center of the Sisters of the Good Shepherd.

The letter was led by Americans for Financial Reform, the Center for Responsible Lending, the National Consumer Law Center, Student Borrower Protection Center, Student Debt Crisis, and Young Invincibles.

“Student loan debt is threatening the future of agriculture, said Sophie Ackoff, Co-Executive Director of the National Young Farmers Coalition. “Crushed by tens of thousands of dollars in student debt, many young farmers can’t afford to invest in land or equipment or commit full-time to their new farm businesses. We need student debt cancellation now to ensure careers in agriculture are open and accessible to all, particularly BIPOC farmers who face greater debt burdens while already struggling to access land and capital due to decades of discriminatory agricultural policy.”

“The student loan debt crisis is a racial justice issue that requires immediate and decisive action from Congress and the Biden administration,” said Jade Magnus Ogunnaike, senior campaign director at Color Of Change. “Higher education does not function as a pathway to economic mobility for Black people when our communities — who already face racial inequities — are forced to carry crushing student loan debt amid a lack of government-backed programs, resources and policies that adequately address this crisis. A national poll released by Color Of Change earlier this year revealed that 84% of Black voters support student loan debt elimination. Alleviating the life-altering burden of student loan debt would allow Black Americans to reap the full benefits associated with higher education and pass along generational wealth — a critical component of closing the racial wealth gap. Color Of Change and our millions of members will continue to call on the federal government to prioritize the needs of Black communities and act swiftly in support of full student loan debt elimination.”

“Actionable steps to address long-standing inequitable issues are within reach. Within the first 100 days, President Biden can narrow the opportunity gap by hitting the reset button with student loan debt. Families, particularly those of color continue to pay on student loans acquired to further their education, in order to better serve communities in professions of public service. The teacher loan forgiveness program is not even close to enough. It is time for our nation to provide investment language to zero out the neverending payments to student loan debt. The Association of Latino Administrators and Superintendents supports the cancellation of student federal loan debt and offers creative solutions to an inequitable issue that is predominantly founded on color and social class.” said Dr. Maria Armstrong, Executive Director, of the Association of Latino Administrators and Superintendents.          

“High accumulation of student debt is a major barrier to entrepreneurship and makes start up business loans that much harder to get. Since entrepreneurs of color are more likely to have higher amounts of student debt due to unequal resources to attend universities, reducing student debt would support a growing entrepreneurial community and begin to chip away at one of the systemic reasons BIPOC business owners are denied capital again and again. As we look to recover from this latest crisis, let’s use every tool at our disposal to make sure we are supporting small businesses to lead us out of a recession once again,” said Stephen Michael, Executive Director, Main Street Alliance.

“While millions of Americans are impacted by the student debt crisis, this debt burden falls heaviest on Black people — especially Black women. Canceling student debt would help close the racial wealth gap and secure financial stability and economic mobility for Black communities, while addressing this debt crisis for millions more. The Biden administration must act now and cancel $50,000 in student debt per borrower,” said Rakim Brooks, ACLU senior campaign strategist.

“We are encouraged by President Biden’s commitment to racial equity and college affordability, which has a disproportionate impact on students and borrowers of color. The Biden-Harris administration should build on these commitments by taking meaningful steps toward debt-free college and providing broad-based student debt cancellation to address the root cause of the crisis while alleviating its impact for millions across the country,” said Antoinette Flores, Acting Vice President of Postsecondary Education, Center for American Progress.