Durbin Joins Schatz, Pocan To Reintroduce Legislation To End Student Loan Debt Crisis

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-IL) joined U.S. Senator Brian Schatz (D-HI) and U.S. Representative Mark Pocan (D-WI-02) to reintroduce the Debt-Free College Act, legislation that will reverse the growing student debt crisis in the United States.  The bill restores a path to an affordable college education by providing incentives to states through matching grants to increase investments in public higher education and providing students with debt-free college.

“Americans are drowning in student debt.  It has led many young people to put off buying cars and houses, starting families, opening a business, and saving for retirement,” said Durbin.  “If we don’t address the student debt crisis, we risk losing a generation of economic growth.  I’m joining the reintroduction of theDebt-Free College Act to give students a chance at quality higher education without debt.” 

The Debt-Free College Act would establish a state-federal partnership that provides a dollar-for-dollar federal match to state higher education appropriations in exchange for a commitment to help students pay for the full cost of attendance without having to take on debt.  The bicameral legislation, first introduced in 2018, was the first proposal to go beyond free tuition, and ensure that students leave college without the financial burden of student loan debt. 

According to the Education Data Initiative, 72 percent of student debt holders believe their student loan debt will delay homeownership.  A Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System survey found that almost 50 percent of student loan borrowers who struggle to repay their loans said that they would miss or make partial student loan payments in an effort to cover a $400 emergency expense, while 13 percent said they would skip a rent or mortgage payment, and 22 percent said that would skip a utility bill.

In addition to Durbin, the Senate bill is cosponsored by U.S. Senators Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Cory Booker (D-NJ), Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Alex Padilla (D-CA), and Peter Welch (D-VT).

The Debt-Free College Act is endorsed by the Center for Law and Social Policy, Institute for Higher Education Policy, Southeast Asia Resource Action Center, Young Invincibles, The Education Trust, and Council for Opportunity in Education.