Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass) is running for President and has announced a major proposal to forgive a massive amount of student loan debt. Here’s everything you need to know.
Does the proposal cancel all student loans?
No, but it would effectively forgive most student loans. Warren’s proposal would allow for a maximum student loan forgiveness benefit of $50,000 per borrower. The average college graduate leaves school with between $30,000 and $40,000 in student loan debt, so many borrowers would see most or all of their student loans forgiven.
Who would be eligible for student loan forgiveness?
Eligibility would be determined by income. Borrowers who make under $100,000 per year would be eligible for the maximum student loan forgiveness benefit of $50,000. Borrowers earning between $100,000 and $250,000 per year would see a reduced benefit. And people who make over $250,000 per year would not be eligible at all. Warren’s campaign has said that around 95% of student loan borrowers would get some benefit from the program.
What happens to student loans that would not be forgiven?
Warren has said that borrowers who do not get all of their student loans forgiven under the proposal would be able to refinance their remaining student loan balances at lower interest rates.
Would federal and private student loans be eligible?
Yes. Warren’s campaign has confirmed that both federal student loans and private student loans could be forgiven under the proposal. It is unclear, however, to what extent borrowers would have a choice over prioritizing one type of student loan over another.
How will the program be paid for?
Warren says that her student loan forgiveness plan would be fully paid for via a tax on the super rich. She proposes a 2% surcharge tax on families that have wealth in excess of $50 million, and an additional 1% surcharge on families worth $1 billion or more.
Would the loan forgiveness be taxable?
No. Warren’s campaign has confirmed that this would be a tax-free form of student loan forgiveness, similar to Public Service Loan Forgiveness.
What are the chances that this will become a reality?
This is hard to say, but a lot of things would have to align in order for this to become law. Warren would need to defeat over 20 rivals in her bid to be the 2020 Democratic nominee for President — certainly a possibility but, with such a crowded field, far from guaranteed. Then, she would need to defeat President Trump in the 2020 general election. That’s still not enough, however, because she would need her proposal to pass both the House and Senate in Congress in order to become law. That would be a difficult feat in today’s polarized political climate. So while this is a very real policy proposal that would have a sweeping impact on millions of student loan borrowers, we are quite far from this becoming a reality.