Our Partners on the HEROES Act and Student Debt During Coronavirus

The statements below were in response to the originally proposed $10,000 in cancellation for all student loan borrowers. Many partners in the Higher Ed, Not Debt campaign are disappointed to see this proposal scaled back in the May 14 update via the manager’s amendment, as it leaves out millions of struggling borrowers.

A joint statement in response to the manager’s amendment is here: Narrowing Student Debt Cancellation in Heroes Act Leaves Out Millions.

Signatories include: Action Center on Race and the Economy, American Federation of Teachers, Americans for Financial Reform, Center for Responsible Lending, Demos, Generation Progress, National Consumer Law Center (on behalf of its low-income clients), Student Borrower Protection Center, and Student Debt Crisis.

This week, House Democrats introduced the next phase of the economic stimulus package, the HEROES (Health and Economic Recovery Omnibus Emergency Solutions) Act. This bill would extend and build upon the relief provided in the previous stimulus bill, the CARES Act. 

The HEROES Act includes Senators Brown, Murray, Schumer, and Warren’s proposal for cancelling $10,000 in student debt cancellation, for borrowers. This much-needed reform would cancel debt entirely for 16 million of America’s 45 million student loan borrowers. The bill would suspend student loan payments through September 2021. This improves upon the CARES Act by ensuring that borrowers with federal, commercially-held, and private student loans will receive equal relief.

The HEROES Act will allow borrowers facing economic distress to take a breath as they see their balances reduced significantly. This measure will mean families are able to put food on the table, afford their gas bill, and pick up prescriptions without worrying about going into default or worsening their credit scores by missing a loan payment. To take action and tell Congress to support this legislation, click here.

See what our partners have to say about this latest congressional response to student debt during the coronavirus pandemic.

The full statements by organizations are accessible via hyperlinks.

Americans for Financial Reform Senior Policy Analyst Alexis Goldstein:  

“The HEROES Act provides needed relief to the 45 million student loan borrowers in the U.S., tackling the ongoing economic fallout caused by the coronavirus with an approach that research shows would boost the economy overall.

HEROES includes $10,000 in federal student debt cancellation, which would leave as estimated 16 million borrowers completely debt-free. It also extends the CARES Act suspension of student loan payments to September 2021, giving borrowers a chance to recover on the same timeline the economy is projected to need to return to pre-coronavirus productivity. And by ensuring all federal student loan borrowers are covered, it fixes the CARES Act gap that left one out of five federal student loan borrowers ineligible for relief. In addition, the HEROES Act also directs the Treasury to make private student loan payments for borrowers through September 2021, for a total of $10,000 in private student loan cancellation.”

American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten:  

“With each passing day, House Democrats make clear they are combating the real issues the COVID-19 pandemic has put front and center: keeping people healthy, keeping people safe, keeping people employed, and ensuring our economy and our communities, schools, colleges and Postal Service can help Americans weather these twin public health and economic crises. Most importantly, the House, under the leadership of Speaker Nancy Pelosi, has approved a bold plan to offer states, cities and towns the support they need to keep our students engaged, our streets safe, and our communities able to access the services they need.

This is a crisis unlike any we’ve ever experienced, and it requires a response unlike any we’ve ever imagined. Thanks to the U.S. House of Representatives for rising to the occasion to meet the needs of the American public as we attempt to recover from the devastation of COVID-19, rebuild and reopen safely. We hope the Senate follows suit.”

Center for American Progress President Neera Tanden:  

“The American people are already suffering deeply from the Trump administration’s repeated mistakes, which have led to this current economic catastrophe. The HEROES Act puts American families and workers first, while Trump and McConnell are treating them as expendable.”

Center for Responsible Lending President Mike Calhoun: 

“We write to applaud [House leadership] for including student debt cancellation in the HR 6800, the “Health and Economic Recovery Omnibus Emergency Solutions” (HEROES) Act. We urge you to ensure that this critical relief remains in the legislative package without change or reduction.”

National Consumer Law Center Student Loan Borrower Assistance Project Director Persis Yu:

“We applaud Speaker Pelosi’s leadership in ensuring that student loan borrowers get real relief in this next stimulus package. Making sure that all borrowers have access to a temporary hiatus from making payments, though necessary, is insufficient. Struggling borrowers – especially low-income borrowers and borrowers of color – still burdened with historically high student loan debt will face a potentially devastated economy when they start making payments again. Their student loan payments will likely prevent them from recovering and contributing to rebuilding our economy. Debt cancellation is imperative. The $10,000 of federal loan forgiveness and $10,000 of private student loan forgiveness provided by the HEROES Act will help ensure that balances go down so borrowers can make ends meet now and then recover along with the economy.”

National Education Association Director of Government Relations Marc Egan:

“The legislation extends the CARES Act’s suspension of student loan payments and interest to September 2021, and also extends those protections to those with commercially held FFEL loans and institutionally held Perkins loans. It cancels $10,000 in student debt for the highest-need borrowers of U.S. Department of Education loans and grants emergency relief to defrauded borrowers. These and other provisions will be a lifeline to individuals who were struggling to repay high-cost loans even before the financial upheaval caused by the pandemic.”

Student Debt Crisis Founder and Executive Director Natalia Abrams:

“We are deeply concerned about the impact of COVID-19 on the economy and how this will impact the future of 45 million people already burdened with student loan debt. Canceling $10,000 in student loan debt is a critical step in the right direction. However, we continue to echo the voices of our supporters who are calling for full student debt cancellation during this unparalleled crisis.

We applaud Speaker Pelosi and House Democrats for championing significant relief for student loan borrowers. We urge Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to do the same.”

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