Warren introduces bill to cancel student debt

Sen. and Democratic presidential-nomination candidate Elizabeth Warren has introduced a bill in the Senate to forgive billions of dollars of student-loan debt, similar to a policy proposal she unveiled on the campaign trail.

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Warren introduces bill to cancel student debt

Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., speaks during a presidential campaign event at the Tipton Family Restaurant in Tipton on Friday, April 26, 2019.

Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., speaks during a presidential campaign event at the Tipton Family Restaurant in Tipton on Friday, April 26, 2019.

Katina Zentz

Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., speaks during a presidential campaign event at the Tipton Family Restaurant in Tipton on Friday, April 26, 2019.

Katina Zentz

Katina Zentz

Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., speaks during a presidential campaign event at the Tipton Family Restaurant in Tipton on Friday, April 26, 2019.

Julia Shanahan, Politics Editor

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This story was updated 6/24 at 10:10 a.m. to include a policy proposal from Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-V.T.

Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., has introduced a bill that would cancel billions of dollars of outstanding student debt — similar to a proposal she unveiled on the presidential-nomination campaign trail and touted in Iowa.

Her bill would forgive up to $50,000 worth of student-loan debt to anyone with a household income of $100,000 or less. The number of students with student-loan debt in Iowa has increased 77 percent from 2008-2018.

Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, told reporters in a June 19 conference call that eliminating student debt is not the answer to addressing the rising amount of debt.

“Where would you say no to people who say ‘you’re going to eliminate student debt, why aren’t you gonna eliminate my debt?’” Grassley said in the conference call. “Remember that debt is assumed individually, and it’s a business decision that people make.”

Grassley has introduced numerous bills to address student-loan debt. The Net Price Calculator Improvement Act would require academic institutions to place net-price calculators on parts of their website where students could find financial information. Another bill Grassley introduced, Know Before You Owe, would allow students to look four years ahead at what they would be studying in college and if they would be able to adequately pay off the loans they would potentially borrow.

RELATED: 2020 Democratic presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren visits eastern Iowa 

Additionally, Grassley introduced a bill that would make financial-aid forms easier for students and parents to navigate by simplifying terms, abbreviations, and acronyms. Grassley said that while the amount of outstanding student-loan debt is a problem, the greater problem is that the federal government encourages students to borrow more loans than they need.

“We shouldn’t have the federal government encouraging people to get the debt, and so that’s kind of where I’m coming from,” Grassley said.

RELATED: Elizabeth Warren outlines benefits of taxing the wealthy in Cedar Rapids 

Warren’s proposal to cancel student-loan debt would provide complete cancellation for around 75 percent of Americans with student-loan debt, according to her campaign’s policy proposal. This policy proposal would be paid for with her proposed Ultra-Millionaire Wealth Tax, which would add an additional 1 percent on wealth above $1 billion.

Iowa caucus-goers have expressed concerns with rising student-loan debt and tuition costs. Warren addressed rising tuition at a campaign stop at the University of Iowa in February, in which she pointed out that students collectively borrowed $1.5 trillion, the same amount the Trump administration gave out in tax cuts.

RELATED: Elizabeth Warren proposes student-debt cancellation, free tuition 

Some voters who have come out to see Warren in Iowa said they wanted to hear what she has to say on the issue of student-loan debt.

Angela Lambertz, an Iowa City resident who saw Warren at the UI in February, said she has $140,000 of her own student-loan debt from Iowa State University, where she received bachelor’s and master’s degrees. In this election, she said, student-loan debt is her No. 1 issue.

“I will not be able to pay it off until after I die,” Lambertz said. “I’m hoping she poses some solutions for people like me, so I will be able to pay this off before I die …”

On Monday, Senator and Democratic presidential-nomination candidate Bernie Sanders proposed cancelling all $1.6 trillion worth of student-loan debt with no eligibility requirements for the borrower. This policy proposal will come with a legislative companion and is part of a package that will also include making public universities and community colleges tuition-free – something Warren has proposed on the campaign trail as well.