Warren Proposes $640 Billion Student Debt Forgiveness, Free College

Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) has called for the cancellation of approximately $640 billion in outstanding student loan debt which would benefit people based on income, according to Politico

The plan would eliminate up to $50,000 in student loan debt for anyone with under $100,000 in annual household income. This would diminish for people with incomes between $100,000 and $250,000 ($1 relief for every $3 earned), and would not be available to those making over $250,000. 

"It’s a problem for all of us," said Warren in a lengthy Medium post ahead of several CNN town halls on Monday evening with fellow 2020 presidential candidates at Saint Anslam College. "It’s reducing home ownership rates. It’s leading fewer people to start businesses. It’s forcing students to drop out of school before getting a degree." 

Approximately 40 million Americans have student loans, which have ballooned to more than $1.5 trillion. 

Warren has combined the debt forgiveness with a proposal to eliminate tuition and fees at all two-year and four-year public colleges. 

She presents the proposals as working in tandem: First, eliminate much of the student loan debt and then restructure the system to ensure that such debt doesn’t accumulate again.

Once we’ve cleared out the debt that’s holding down an entire generation of Americans, we must ensure that we never have another student debt crisis again,” she wrote.

Warren’s Medium post — a spokesperson for her campaign said there wasn’t specific legislation at the moment — also proposed changes aimed at closing the racial wealth gap. That includes a prohibition on public colleges using an applicant’s criminal history or citizenship status in its admissions decisions and a $50 billion fund for historically black colleges and universities and minority-serving institutions. -Politico

Warren's pitch is similar to free-college proposals floated by Sen. bernie Sanders (I-VT) during his 2016 run for president, however the Massachussetts Senator's plan goes far beyond that of Sanders - whose 2017 College for All act called for the refinancing of loans, according to Politico

The debt cancellation plan puts Warren firmly to the left of Sanders as she hopes to woo progressive voters who voted for the Vermont Senator in 2016. Sanders will also participate in Monday night's New Hampshire forum, and is currently far head of Warren in polling. 

Warren has also recently called for the abolition of the Senate filibuster and the Electoral College - and has endorsed a long-standing House bill to study slavery reparations. She also called for an "ultramillionaire tax" in January which would slap a 2% tax on wealth above $50 million and an additional 1% tax on wealth over $1 billion. 

Sanders, on the other hand, has called for taxing the wealthy - though he has not proposed anything similar to the "wealth tax." Warren would pay for her education proposals with this tax. 

While Warren’s campaign has been in the middle of the pack in raising money and polling, she has set the pace on policy. Her steady clip of far-reaching overhauls on everything from trust-busting big tech companies to establishing a government agency to produce generic pharmaceutical drugs has been a centerpiece of the senator’s candidacy.

It is part of a pitch to convince voters that she is the most serious and prepared candidate to face off against President Donald Trump despite lingering concerns about electability after the handling of her past claims of Native American ancestry. -Politico

"Higher education opened a million doors for me," Warren wrote in her Medium post. "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." 

Claiming she was a Native American to open doors along her journey didn't hurt either.