WASHINGTON—Statement by AFT President Randi Weingarten on Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s proposals on student debt and college affordability:
“Sen. Warren’s student-debt and college-affordability proposals give the current generation a chance at financial health. These proposals are as consequential as the GI Bill and would be a game-changer for millions of Americans being crushed by $1.5 trillion in student debt.
“Going to college shouldn't result in a lifetime sentence of student debt, but that is exactly what is happening and it’s only getting worse. Sen. Warren's plan would release Americans from their debt sentence so they can live their lives, care for their families and have a fair shot at the American dream. Not only would it wipe out student debt for most Americans, it would do so automatically and immediately, so people wouldn't have to worry about being approved or dealing with confusing paperwork. Also, Sen. Warren would improve the Public Student Loan Forgiveness program for any debt that remains, so it will actually work for teachers, nurses and others who devote their lives to serving children and communities. And this plan’s investment in public higher education would fund our future so that we, as a nation, never end up in this situation again.
"America's student debt crisis is an epidemic that is ruining peoples' lives and hurting our economy, and it demands immediate action. I hear from AFT members almost daily—from new educators who can’t stay in the profession because they’re defaulting on their loans, to experienced professionals who can’t retire because they can’t afford payments on their kids’ loans or are still paying off their own loans. Teachers are taking on more student debt to be able to do their jobs and serve their students, and at the same time their wages are declining and the cost of their healthcare benefits is rising. Yet instead of providing them relief and helping them stay in the classroom, Secretary Betsy DeVos and President Trump have completely sabotaged the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program, and aided and abetted nefarious student loan companies like Navient and for-profit colleges that prey on students.
“Americans want and deserve leaders who will help them secure a better life, and taking on the issue of student debt is central to that effort. This fight isn't new to Sen. Warren, who for years has been championing solutions to the student debt crisis and taking on the bad actors that prey on and profit from students—as a professor, as an advocate, at the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and as a senator. We are glad to see her continue her advocacy on behalf of students and families as a presidential candidate.”