Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget

Student Debt Cancellation Resources Page

Jan 4, 2022 | Other Spending| Economics


Student debt cancellation has gained attention in recent years as a policy proposal to address rising student debt levels in the United States. President Joe Biden has proposed that Congress pass a law that would cancel $10,000 of federal student loan debt for every borrower, while leading members of Congress, including Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY), have urged President Biden to cancel $50,000 in federal student loan debt for every borrower using executive authority. It is unclear whether the president has the legal authority to cancel debt unilaterally, and the Department of Education is currently studying the question (the Office of the General Counsel produced a memo in the final days of the Trump Administration arguing that it would not be legal). Congress has the authority to cancel some or all debt through legislation, though no form of cancellation has been included in any version of the Build Back Better Act. The Biden Administration has remained quiet on cancellation and instead focused on prolonging the student loan repayment moratorium and making changes to income-driven repayment programs.

Below is a list of resources discussing the economic and distributional implications of debt cancellation, the legality of cancellation, Congressional testimony, op-eds, and debt cancellation legislation and proposals.






Legislation and Proposals

  • Student Loan Debt Relief Act of 2019 - House: James Clyburn (D-SC), Janice Schakowsky (D-IL), Ro Khanna (D-CA), Yvette Clarke (D-NY), Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC), Jahana Hayes (D-CT), Al Green (D-TX), Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-TX), Ayanna Pressley (D-MA), Joseph P. Kennedy (D-MA), John B. Larson (D-CT), James P. McGovern (D-MA). Senate: Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Edward J. Markey (D-MA), Sherrod Brown (D-OH). (2019)
  • Student Debt Cancellation Act of 2019 - House: Ilhan Omar (D-MN), Pramila Jayapal (D-WA), Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX), Rashida Tlaib (D-MI), Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC), Bennie G. Thompson (D-MS), Barbara Lee (D-CA), Jesus G. “Chuy” Garcia (D-IL), Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY), Robin L. Kelly (D-IL), Ro Khanna (D-CA), Carolyn B. Maloney (D-NY), Karen Bass (D-CA), Ayanna Pressley (D-MA), Adriano Espaillat (D-NY), Alma S. Adams (D-NC). Senate (part of the College for All Act): Bernard Sanders (I-VT) (2019)
  • Income-Driven Student Loan Forgiveness Act - Al Lawsom (D-FL) (2021)
  • Student Loan Relief Act - Vincente Gonzalez (D-TX) (2020)