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JPMorgan Chase CEO says student debt crisis a "disgrace" that's "hurting America"

Sanders proposes eliminating all student debt

Jamie Dimon is not exactly climbing aboard the Bernie Sanders bandwagon and the presidential candidate's plan to eliminate $1.6 trillion in student debt with a tax on Wall Street trading. But the JPMorgan Chase CEO is again signaling his distress on a higher education issue that he views as a "disgrace" that's "hurting America."

Asked on Tuesday whether he supported the Vermont senator's proposal to wipe out $1.6 trillion in student loans owed by some 44 million people, Dimon told Yahoo Finance: "No, I think they should look at all parts of student lending, fix the broken parts, and then forgive those people who need forgiveness, and then help people get into school, and then make sure the schools are responsible in getting the kids out."

He added: "What we've done is a disgrace, and it's hurting America....How they go about taxing, I'll leave that to the politicians to figure out." 

In Dimon's view, there's plenty of blame to go around for what he termed "the creation of bad debt." Since the government took over in 2010, "they've lent out $1 trillion irresponsibly and now they want to forgive it," said the chief of the nation's largest bank, who then moved on to the schools themselves. "Half the kids don't graduate and it takes six years -- universities should feel more responsibility." 

Needs-based college aid

Many of those with college degrees don't need assistance, especially compared against inner-city school kids "who aren't graduating high school," said Dimon, who also pointed to young adults "in community college who need Pell grants" to fund their educatons. 

Financial tips for new college grads with student debt

While voicing hope that resources would be devoted to "those who really need it," Dimon said he wasn't interested in arguing how a solution would be funded. "How you pay for it you can debate all day long. [Sanders'] financial tax [on Wall Street transactions] will be paid by investors at the end of the day."

This week's sounding off is not the first time Dimon has weighed in on the issue of student debt loads. In his annual letter released in April, he criticized "irrational" student lending that was becoming a "significant issue" affecting the economy.

With Dimon at the helm, Chase stopped issuing private student loans in 2013, but kept them on its books until 2017, when it sold what remained of its student loan portfolio to Navient.

Dimon has drawn fire before after wading into political issues. Sanders, among those vying for the Democratic presidential nomination, recently sparred with Dimon over his criticism of socialism at a public appearance. And President Donald Trump lashed out at the banker late last year after Dimon suggested he could beat Mr. Trump in an election.