Petition Calling for Student Loan Debt to Be Canceled Surpasses 800K Signatures

A petition calling for the cancelation of student loan debt has amassed more than 800,000 signatures.

Student Loans Justice, a grassroots organization, started the petition to call on either President Donald Trump or President-elect Joe Biden to forgive student loan debt by executive order.

As of Thursday, the petition had amassed more than 824,000 signatures.

Americans collectively hold more than $1.5 trillion in federal student loan debt—and Democratic lawmakers have called on Biden to issue significant student loan forgiveness after taking office, in a bid to ease the burden on those struggling financially amid the coronavirus pandemic.

In a recent interview, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said Biden should issue an executive order to help eliminate student debt in his first 100 days in office. "I have a proposal with Elizabeth Warren that the first $50,000 of debt be vanquished," he said. "And we believe that Joe Biden can do that with the pen as opposed to legislation."

Progressive Democrats, including Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Ayanna Pressley, have also ramped up the pressure for Biden to help wipe out student debt in recent days. Independent Senator Bernie Sanders, who has called for eliminating the country's entire outstanding student loan debt, also made the case for student loan forgiveness in a recent tweet.

Biden has not committed to canceling all outstanding student loan debt or elaborated on whether he would support debt being eliminated through executive action.

He has proposed a program that offers public service workers $10,000 a year in student debt relief for every year of national or community service, up to five years.

Under the plan listed on Biden's website, his administration would also forgive undergraduate federal student loans for people who have "responsibly made payments" for 20 years.

Alan Collinge, the founder of Students Loans Justice, told Newsweek: "We are thrilled that the Democrats have embraced the concept of canceling these loans by executive order, but partial half-measures such as what we are hearing from them currently will only perpetuate this dangerous, unconstitutional lending system.

"As president, Biden needs to cancel all the federal loans possible, and also issue an executive order calling on the Department of Education to stop opposing student loan borrowers in bankruptcy court on the loans that remain."

He also said the issue is not a partisan one, adding that 54 percent of student loan borrowers are either Republican or independent.

"By all reasonable metrics, this is now a catastrophically failed lending system where even before the pandemic, 80 percent of all borrowers were never going to be able to repay their loans," he said.

Collinge added that canceling student loan debt would "massively" stimulate the economy without adding to the national debt.

"Canceling these loans by executive order requires no tax appropriation to do. The taxpayers paid for these loans many years ago, and they didn't pay much," he said.

"Also, unlike the $1 Trillion in [Paycheck Protection Program] loans that the taxpayer is giving to businesses that don't have to be paid back and that add to the national debt, canceling student loans will add nothing to the national debt. President Trump could do this today, and he should."

Student loan
Students wearing academic regalia attend their graduation ceremony at the University of California Los Angeles (UCLA), June 14, 2019 in Los Angeles California. Robyn Beck/AFP via Getty Images