Democratic presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren proposed eliminating student-loan debt for an estimated 42 million Americans with a wealth tax, seeking to show young voters she would ease one of their biggest economic burdens.
The plan would eliminate as much as $50,000 in student debt for anyone with household income of less than $100,000, and partially cancel debt for those who make as much as $250,000.
Beyond $100,000 in income, the $50,000 in per-person debt forgiveness falls by $1 for every $3 earned, zeroing out after $250,000. In other words, those who earn $130,000 are eligible for $40,000 in student debt relief, while those who make $190,000 can lower their loan amount by $20,000.
“The enormous student debt burden weighing down our economy isn’t the result of laziness or irresponsibility,” Warren wrote in a blog post published Monday. “It’s the result of a government that has consistently put the interests of the wealthy and well-connected over the interests of working families.”
With a university admissions scandal focusing attention on the inequities of U.S. higher education, making college accessible for all is increasingly a campaign theme on the left. Warren’s plan also calls for eliminating undergraduate tuition and fees at two-year and four-year public institutions.
Warren’s campaign estimates that her debt cancellation and free-college policies would cost $1.25 trillion over a decade, and called for financing it with a portion of the $2.75 trillion in revenues from her proposed annual tax on wealth of more than $50 million.
U.S. student debt topped $1.5 trillion last year, according to the Federal Reserve. Warren’s policy seeks to help millennials weighed down by student debt and to prevent the same fate for the next generation of Americans who’ll become eligible to vote in 2020.