Personal Finance

Democratic presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren gestures as she speaks during a campaign stop at George Mason University in Fairfax, Virginia on May 16, 2019.

Mandel Ngan | AFP | Getty Images

Democratic presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren isn’t waiting for the election to push forward her proposal to erase the majority of the country’s outstanding student debt.

The Massachusetts senator and Rep. James E. Clyburn (D-S.C.) announced on Wednesday their plan to introduce legislation in the Senate and House to eliminate up to $50,000 in student loan debt for 42 million Americans.

“It’s time to decide: Are we going to be a country that only helps the rich and powerful get richer and more powerful, or are we going to be a country that invests in its future?” Warren said, in a statement.

Outstanding education debt in the U.S. is projected to swell to $2 trillion by 2022, surpassing credit card or auto debt levels. Today, the average college graduate leaves school $30,000 in the red, up from $10,000 in the 1990s. Nearly one-quarter of borrowers are in delinquency or default.

In a post on Medium in April, Warren introduced her campaign proposal to eliminate student debt. The details of the bill are likely to be similar.

Borrowers with household incomes under $100,000 would be eligible to have $50,000 of their student debt scrubbed.

People who earn between $100,000 and $250,000 would be eligible for less forgiveness. For example, Warren writes, “a person with household income of $130,000 gets $40,000 in cancellation, while a person with household income of $160,000 gets $30,000 in cancellation.”

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And those who earn more than $250,000 would not be eligible for any debt forgiveness.

In all, more than 95% of student loan borrowers would see at least some of their debt cancelled.

The plan would be funded with a 2% annual tax Warren proposes to levy on accumulations of wealth exceeding $50 million, with an additional 1% on wealth exceeding $1 billion.

In a recent Politico/Morning Consult poll, 56% of registered voters said they support the Massachusetts senator’s proposal to wipe out $640 billion in outstanding education loans by raising taxes on the wealthiest Americans.

Just 27% of voters said they opposed the plan.

In an interview on CNN on Sunday, Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders suggested he, too, would soon be putting forth a plan to forgive student loan debt.

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