Student Debt Cancellation Resources Page


Student debt cancellation has gained attention in recent years as a policy proposal to address rising student debt levels in the United States. President Biden announced a plan to cancel up to $10,000 of debt for federal student loan holders and up to $20,000 of debt for all federal student loan borrowers who have received a Pell Grant. Only households earning less than $250,000 per year (or $125,000 for an individual) will be eligible. We estimate this will cost between $330 billion and $390 billion, with a central estimate of $360 billion. It will cancel about $525 billion of student debt. It is unclear whether the president has the legal authority to cancel debt unilaterally, and the Department of Education is currently studying the question (the Office of the General Counsel produced a memo in the final days of the Trump Administration arguing that it would not be legal).

Below is a list of resources discussing the economic and distributional implications of debt cancellation, the legality of cancellation, Congressional testimony, op-eds, and debt cancellation legislation and proposals.






Legislation and Proposals

  • The Biden Emergency Action Plan to Save the Economy - Joe Biden (2020)
  • Student Loan Debt Relief Act of 2019 - House: James Clyburn (D-SC), Janice Schakowsky (D-IL), Ro Khanna (D-CA), Yvette Clarke (D-NY), Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC), Jahana Hayes (D-CT), Al Green (D-TX), Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-TX), Ayanna Pressley (D-MA), Joseph P. Kennedy (D-MA), John B. Larson (D-CT), James P. McGovern (D-MA). Senate: Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Edward J. Markey (D-MA), Sherrod Brown (D-OH). (2019)
  • Student Debt Cancellation Act of 2019 - House: Ilhan Omar (D-MN), Pramila Jayapal (D-WA), Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX), Rashida Tlaib (D-MI), Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC), Bennie G. Thompson (D-MS), Barbara Lee (D-CA), Jesus G. “Chuy” Garcia (D-IL), Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY), Robin L. Kelly (D-IL), Ro Khanna (D-CA), Carolyn B. Maloney (D-NY), Karen Bass (D-CA), Ayanna Pressley (D-MA), Adriano Espaillat (D-NY), Alma S. Adams (D-NC). Senate (part of the College for All Act): Bernard Sanders (I-VT) (2019)
  • Income-Driven Student Loan Forgiveness Act - Al Lawsom (D-FL) (2021)
  • Student Loan Relief Act - Vincente Gonzalez (D-TX) (2020)