Today, Congresswoman Frederica S. Wilson (FL-24) applauded President Biden's decision to cancel federal student loan debt and extend the repayment moratorium. As chair of the Subcommittee on Higher Education and Workforce Investment, Congresswoman Wilson has been at the forefront of the fight to cancel student debt. From the beginning of the Biden administration, she has chaired multiple committee hearings on federal student aid policies and student debt relief and has raised the issue of student debt with the administration. She's also authored and signed numerous letters calling on President Biden to cancel student debt. Congresswoman Wilson issued the following statement:
"For years, we have rightfully encouraged students to pursue higher education and championed it as a ladder into unbounded success. However, far too many students, especially minority and first-generation students, are saddled with loans that prevent them from ever reaching the American dream.
"Today's announcement is the culmination of years of advocacy, but our work is far from over. I'm working with my colleagues and the Biden administration to take even more necessary steps toward full student loan cancellation and address college affordability issues at their roots.
"Nonetheless, President Biden's decision to cancel a portion of student loans is a bold step in the right direction.
"President Biden is a champion for students. Even before this announcement, the President had already forgiven more than $32 billion in student debt for millions of defrauded students, public servants, and disabled students, including thousands of Floridians. His decision to cancel up to $20,000 in student debt is a testament to his commitment to make college free and provide the American people relief."
According to the U.S. Department of Education, 2.6 million student borrowers in Florida owe a combined $100.9 billion in student loan debt and nearly 3 percent of low-income borrowers in Florida owe more than $200,000. Today's announcement will put hundreds of dollars a month directly into the pockets of Florida families who are struggling to make ends meet.
Nationally, more than 45 million Americans collectively owe over $1.7 trillion in student debt. However, the burden of student debt is not born equally, particularly among women, low-income, and first-generation borrowers. It is estimated that women hold roughly two-thirds of all student debt and have disproportionately held them back from buying homes, building wealth, and achieving economic prosperity.
The student debt issue also carries racial justice implications as more than 49 percent of Black college students take out federal loans, far outpacing other racial groups. Additionally, figures show that four years after graduation, 48 percent of Black students owe an average of 12.5 percent more than they borrowed, and twelve years after starting college, most Black borrowers owe more than they initially borrowed. By removing one of the largest economic barriers for millions, student loan borrowers will be free to pursue their highest economic potential and uplift themselves from intergenerational poverty.