On Aug. 24, President Joe Biden announced the cancellation of $10,000 in federal student debt for most borrowers and up to $20,000 for Pell Grant recipients. Last Monday, however, many students said this wasn’t enough.

That night, Students’ Association President Adrija Bhattacharjee announced during an SA Senate meeting that she joined 32 other student body politicians from 18 schools and the President of the New York College Democrats in signing a letter urging Biden to cancel “at least $50,000 per person in federal student loan debt immediately.”

The letter was coordinated by the Student Debt Crisis Center, for whom Bhattacharjee has worked as an Economic Justice Fellow since early August.

The letter presents a three-pronged rationale for increasing the amount of debt forgiveness, claiming that student loan cancellation “expands educational opportunities,” would help “close the racial wealth gap and promote equity in higher education,” and would “help our economy recover from the COVID-19 recession.”

“Relieving student debt is a moral and economic imperative for the Biden Administration to take on and must be done again without delay,” the letter reads. “Canceling student loans will spur economic growth and entrepreneurship, expand educational opportunities, reduce dropout rates, close the racial wealth gap, and uplift millions of borrowers suffocated by $1.7 trillion in student loan debt.”

Bhattacharjee said she wants the letter to simultaneously recognize appreciation for the debt forgiveness implemented by the Biden administration while still pushing for further action. She said the forgiveness demonstrated that strides can be made, and that those strides will inspire further action among borrowers and advocates.

“We hope the letter will show the Biden administration that the advocacy work and coalition building surrounding student debt cancellation are being invested into ten times harder now and we’re setting a precedent that the younger generations aren’t going to give up on issues like this because every borrower deserves to see every dollar of debt cancelled going forward,” she wrote to the CT.

On future steps, Bhattacharjee said she will continue doing outreach for SDCC’s Free the Degree campaign by reaching out to more student governments and asking them to pass resolutions and conduct outreach on their campuses around student debt cancellation and further advocacy, all with the aim of developing a national student coalition. 

She also intends to continue work locally by passing a resolution on debt cancellation through SA and reaching out to local press to publicize the letter.

Multiple SA senators did not respond to requests for comment on the letter.

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