What is the University Act?

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Increase the pressure on the president Joe Biden on a key target of his party’s left flank, a group of Democratic Attorneys General urged House and Senate leadership in a letter Friday to pass resolutions calling on the commander in chief to use his executive powers under the College Act to reduce up to $ 50,000 in debt for “every single federal student loan borrower.”

Biden has defied such calls, which have now been reinforced by 15 senior law enforcement officials across the country, including his party’s rising stars.

What is the University Act?

Legally signed by the then President in 1965 Lyndon B. JohnsonHEA began as part of Johnson’s Great Society program for the purpose of “strengthen[ing] the educational resources of our colleges and universities and the financial support of students in upper secondary and higher education. “The law was re-authorized several times ((and changed) in the following decades.

There are resolutions in both House and Senate, using identical language to say that Biden should use his executive powers to order the Minister of Education to use the powers available under the Higher Education Act to cancel student debts.

Senate Democrats and the Harvard University Legal Services Center each referred to 20 USC § 1082 (a) which states that the Secretary of Education (Biden’s candidate is Dr. Miguel Cardona) can (put emphasis) “enforce, pay, Compromisewaive or release any right, title, claim, lien or claim, however acquired, including equity or redemption rights. “

Congressional resolutions jointly state that Biden should “largely cancel debt on federal student loans,” but not only because of the burden caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“While canceling student loan debt of up to $ 50,000 per borrower is the fairest way to ensure that the benefits of cancellation reach the most desperate borrowers, as it moves a disproportionate number of low-income borrowers as well Borrowers with black and Latin American loans would lift entirely out of student debt, including nearly 90 percent of all borrowers in the lowest-income quintile and over 90 percent of black and Latino borrowers in the lowest-income quartile, “said H. Res 100 says in part.

What the attorneys general are saying

New York Attorney General Letitia James and Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healy Headline of the letter, along with 15 other democratic groups: William Tong (Conn.), Kathleen Jennings (Del.), Clare Connors (Hawaii), Kwame Raoul (Ill.), Brian Frosh (Md.), Keith Ellison (Minn.), Aaron Ford (Nev.), Gurbir Grewal (NJ), Hector Balderas (New Mexico), Ellen Rosenblum (Ore.), Thomas Donovan Jr. (Vt.), Mark Herring (Va.), Bob Ferguson (To wash.), Josh Kaul (Wisc.) And Karl Racine (DC).

Attorneys-General say the pandemic has exacerbated long-standing problems and will leave many Americans behind. especially minority communities who are disproportionately affected by COVID-19 in a permanent state of hardship:

Student loan borrowers have struggled before the COVID-19 pandemic and recession. Many borrowers already owed more than they originally borrowed. Every fifth borrower on a federal student loan is in default. Many are unable to manage their debts due to disability, illness, or job loss. A growing number are seniors who live on low fixed incomes. Struggling borrowers are unable to obtain significant bankruptcy relief because, under current law, federal student loans can only mature in extremely tight circumstances.

Many struggling borrowers are victims of predatory, for-profit colleges that lure students with false promises, leaving them with worthless degrees, poor career prospects, and insurmountable debt. Our offices have devoted significant resources to addressing misconduct by nonprofit universities. Through these efforts, we know that students attending nonprofit schools suffer disproportionately from the dire consequences of the federal student loans they receive to pay for their tuition. Significantly, the non-profit school industry has targeted people of color who are, as a result, disproportionately represented among the students who are struggling with federal loans for attending non-profit schools. Student debt relief can significantly increase the wealth of black and Latin American households and help fill the racial wealth gap.

Attorney General James said in a statement that doing nothing to resolve student loan debt will prevent “too many struggling borrowers” from “achieving financial stability.”

“Many default or default on their payments, creating a downward spiral of ruined credit and shattered dreams. By canceling student loan debt of up to $ 50,000, these borrowers can not only grow their lives but also bridge the racial wealth gap and take our economy to new heights. This is about putting all students on an equal footing and giving every borrower an opportunity to be successful, ”said James.

[Image via Alex Wong/Getty Images]

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