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DeFazio Calls for Student Debt Cancellation in Next Coronavirus Relief Package

May 8, 2020
Press Release

Rep. Peter DeFazio (OR-04) today called on House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy to provide long-term financial relief for students by including student debt cancellation in the next coronavirus relief package.

“Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, borrowers—particularly low-income Americans, young people, and communities of color—were being crushed by student loan debt,” said Rep. DeFazio. “Now, our students are facing a devastated job market and an economic downturn far worse than the Great Recession. The temporary protections provided under the CARES Act simply aren’t enough—we need true relief for student borrowers. I have long believed that an educationwhether it be from a community college, vocational school, or four-year collegeshould open doors for students, not weigh them down with insurmountable debt.”

The CARES Act provided a 6-month suspension of student loan payments for borrowers with federally-backed student loans. However, like other forms of coronavirus relief, that provision has proven insufficient to meet the scale of the crisis and leaves out 20 percent of student loan borrowers who have commercially-held Federal Family Education Loans (FFEL) or Perkins Loans.

In a letter to House leadership, the lawmakers are calling for:

  • Universal, one-time, student loan debt cancellation of at least $30,000 per borrower;
  • Long-term payment relief for all federal student loan borrowers; and
  • Expanded protections for millions of private student loan borrowers, including providing long-term relief through debt cancellation and refinancing options

DeFazio has fought to make higher education more affordable throughout his time in Congress. He has repeatedly introduced legislation, the HIGHER ED + AID Act, to remove barriers preventing students from attending and paying for higher education.

For a PDF version of the letter, click here.