ST. PAUL, Minn. (WCCO) -- Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison joined several of his counterparts across the country Wednesday in urging President Joe Biden to fully cancel federal student loan debt for millions of Americans.
In a letter to the president, Ellison and eight other attorneys general asked Biden to use his authority under the Higher Education Act to give relief to Americans struggling with debt. In Minnesota, 750,000 people have federal student loan debt, with loans averaging $35,000.
"My job is to help everyone afford their lives, and canceling crushing federal student debt will help the economy as a whole," Ellison said, in a statement. "Working folks who are struggling with debt in a time of high inflation — when the economy is already stacked against them — will be able to get ahead. Canceling federal student debt will free folks up to spend their income on essential goods and services, which will send a surge through the economy that will benefit everyone."
Ellison said that if the burden of federal student loans were lifted, many Americans would have a better shot at homeownership and saving for retirement, which in turn would help to close the nation's racial wealth gap. He added that the current status quo saddles millions of young people with debt, forces them into a flawed repayment system, concentrates wealth in the hands of a few, and contributes to an economic landscape that is deeply unfair.
According to Ellison's office, student borrowers owe more than $1.7 trillion to the U.S. government. While the president promised during his campaign to wipe out at least some student debt, that has yet to happen. Although he has extended the pandemic-related pause on student loan payments until August, it's unclear what will take priority in his domestic agenda ahead of the midterm elections in November.
Other Minnesota lawmakers, such as Rep. Ilhan Omar (D), have called for at least some debt relief. Some progressive Democrats were pushing for $50,000 per borrower.
"We can't continue to pause it, right?" Omar said last month on WCCO Sunday Morning. "We have to come up with some sort of relief, and I think the president is committed into exploring an amount that could be, that he could be satisfied with in canceling."
Last week, Biden said that he was considering wiping out some student loan debt and would make a decision in the weeks ahead. However, he noted that he's not considering the $50,000 per borrower figure.
Alongside Ellison in penning the letter to Biden were the attorneys general of Hawaii, Illinois, Michigan, New Mexico, New York, Puerto Rico, and Washington.
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