Candidate Warren proposes college debt forgiveness plan

Massachusetts senator and 2020 presidential hopeful Elizabeth Warren is on the campaign trail touring primary states, such as Iowa and South Carolina, and unveiling her $640 billion college debt forgiveness plan.

Warren, a Democrat, is proposing the elimination of existing student loan debt for millions of Americans. She announced the plan to differentiate herself from the other candidates in the packed 2020 race.

Warren is proposing to eliminate almost all student loan debt for 42 million Americans, canceling $50,000 in debt for each person with household income under $100,000. According to Warren’s proposal, the debt cancellation plan would create a one-time fee to the federal government of $640 billion. Warren announced the plan as part of her presidential platform ahead of a CNN town hall meeting with other presidential candidates including Sen. Kamala Harris, Mayor Pete Buttigieg, Sen. Bernie Sanders and Sen. Amy Klobuchar.

As Warren’s plan would also create a fund with a “minimum of $50 billion,” other presidential candidates, including Warren, Sanders, Harris and Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, all signed on as co-sponsors of Sanders’ 2017 College for All Act, which would allocate $47 billion annually to states to cover two-thirds of the tuition obligation.

Sen. Elizabeth Warren speaks at a presidential forum April 24 in Houston.

Sen. Elizabeth Warren speaks at a presidential forum April 24 in Houston.

In addition, Warren and other candidates in the field including Sens. Cory Booker, Gillibrand and Harris, are endorsing the Debt-Free College Act, a similar bill recently introduced in Congress that would cover all costs for students attending a public college without necessitating loans.

Among Warren’s other proposals are the elimination of tuition and fees for two- and four-year public college degree programs, as well as a $100 billion investment in Pell Grants.

The Debt-Free College Act would also create a fund with a “minimum of $50 billion” intended to keep per-student spending at historically black colleges and universities and minority-serving institutions comparable to other area colleges.

“I definitely agree with that, and I believe that all college should be free, at least like for the first time you take the course it should be free. Maybe like the second time you have to pay some money, but I believe that college education should be free,” said Richland math professor Sam Obeid, Ph.D. “I am a product of where a university was free, so [I think]college education should be free.”

The costs of debt cancellation and universal free college would be “more than covered by my Ultra-Millionaire Tax — a 2% annual tax on the 75,000 families with $50 million or more in wealth,” Warren said.

Warren is traveling to colleges and universities in key primary battleground states, including South Carolina, Texas, Iowa and Nevada, along with other states to spread information.

She and other candidates will take the message of her platform including the college debt forgiveness plan to other states as well.