March 06, 2019

Harris Joins Colleagues to Reintroduce Legislation to End Student Loan Debt Crisis

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senator Kamala D. Harris (D-CA) joined a group of 42 members of Congress in reintroducing the Debt-Free College Act, legislation that will reverse the growing student debt crisis in the United States. The bill restores a path to affordable college by providing states incentives through matching grants to increase investments in public higher education and provide students with debt-free college.

“Students in America should be able to go to college to further their careers without going deep into a financial hole,” said Senator Harris. “The student loan debt crisis will continue to grow worse every year unless we take decisive action to provide relief for students and make college debt-free for everyone. I’m proud to join my colleagues in introducing this legislation to help students go to college without having to take on debt.”

If signed into law, the Debt-Free College Act would establish a state-federal partnership that provides a dollar-for-dollar federal match to state higher education appropriations in exchange for a commitment to help students pay for the full cost of attendance without having to take on debt.

Beyond tuition and fees, the total cost of attendance—room and board, books and supplies, and other expenses—has forced 44 million Americans to take on debt to cover their financial need. College debt has increased 170 percent since 2006 and now exceeds $1.5 trillion dollars, which is second only to mortgage debt and surpasses even credit card debt.

According to the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, student loan debt is responsible for 35 percent of the decline in homeownership since 2007. The percentage of younger people who reported owning a business was cut in half between 2010 and 2013. Pew Research Center found that about 50 percent of student borrowers say their loans increase their risk of defaulting on other bills.

In addition to Harris, the bill is co-sponsored by U.S. Senators Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii), Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), Cory Booker (D-N.J.), Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.), and Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.).

The bill is endorsed by the American Federation of Teachers, the Center for Law and Social Policy, Council for Opportunity in Education, Demos, Institute for Higher Education Policy, Jumpstart, NAACP, Southeast Asia Resource Action Center, Social Security Works, and Young Invincibles.

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