A petition calling on President Donald Trump to cancel student loans has amassed more than half a million signatures.
More than 40 million Americans have federal student debt, owing more than $1,542 billion in total, according to data from the Federal Student Aid office.
But Student Loans Justice, a grassroots organization, says trillions could be injected into the economy if those government-held student loans were forgiven, and that doing so won't require taxpayer funds or add to the national debt.
Almost 600,000 people have signed the group's Change.org petition urging the president to cancel federal student loans by executive order.
"Trillions could be injected into the economy with no tax money needed, and nothing added to the national debt," the petition states.
"The President—whether the current President, or the next—needs new ways to stimulate the economy. After having spent an astonishing $9 trillion towards this end (and adding roughly that amount to the national debt), Wall Street has bounced back stronger than ever, but 50 million citizens have lost their jobs, and many of those jobs will not be coming back."
The group cited a 2018 report which forecast that a policy of debt cancellation could boost GDP by around $100 billion per year, but said the report didn't take into account borrowing capacity and spending that the move would free up.
"This would be another $1 Trillion injected into the economy in the near and medium term," according to Student Loans Justice.
Trump signed an executive order in August, pausing federal student loan payments and interest until December 31.
However, the group says the lending system was a failure even before the COVID-19 pandemic threw millions of Americans out of work.
"Lives and livelihoods are being wrecked en masse" because of the debt, the group said in the petition, adding that the lack of consumer protections mean student loans have been "weaponized against the very citizens they were supposed to help."
"Young people aren't getting married, starting families, businesses or buying homes," the group adds in the petition. "Older people are being forced to cash in their retirements. Families are being torn apart. People are fleeing the country. Some are even committing suicide."
The petition also claimed cancelling student loans would be an "historic opportunity" for Trump to "strongly endear himself to tens of millions of voters who would otherwise have, by and large, opposed him this coming November."
Student Loans Justice and the White House has been contacted for comment.