What Kamala Harris Means For Your Student Loans

Here’s what Vice President Kamala Harris could mean for your student loans.

Here’s what you need to know.

Student Loans

Since last year, student loan borrowers have been wondering where President Joe Biden stands on student loan cancellation. They’ve asked questions like:

With congressional leaders focsued on pressuring Biden to enact wide-scale student loan forgiveness, there’s another principal who also has important opinions on student loans. Harris, a former U.S. senator (D-CA) and presidential candidate, has proposed several reforms to student loans and higher education. Let’s explore. (What Biden’s last student loan relief means for your student loans).

Student loans: student loan cancellation up to $20,000

Is student debt cancellation next? As a presidential candidate, Harris proposed to cancel up to $20,000 of student loan debt. Under Harris’ plan, student loan forgiveness would not be available to everyone. Rather, Harris sought to make student loan forgiveness available to certain borrowers. For example, borrowers who received Pell Grants, which are available to low-income students to help pay for college, could receive student loan forgiveness if they started and ran a business for at least three years in a disadvantaged community. The goal was to help spur economic stimulus in disadvantaged opportunities, encourage entrepreneurship, and to forgive student loans. (Biden extended student loan relief, but advocates really want student loan cancellation).


Student loan cancellation: not for everyone

As a moderate U.S. senator and presidential candidate, Harris did not support cancellation of all student loans. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) proposed cancellation of all $1.7 trillion of student loans, including all private and federal student loan debt. That said, Harris, like Biden, supports up to $10,000 of student loan debt cancellation. (Student loan borrowers will get $15 billion of student loan cancellation). As vice president, Harris has said that the student loan crisis “is real” and recognizes the need to find solutions. Similarly, while Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) proposed student loan forgiveness up to $50,000, they too don’t support total cancellation of student loans. Under their plan, Schumer and Warren would limit student loan forgiveness only to federal student loans and for borrowers who earn up to $125,000 annually. (Here’s who qualifies for student loan forgiveness right now).

Student loans: Harris supports tuition-free college

One way Harris has proposed to lessen the burden of student loans is to make two-year college tuition-free. Specifically, Harris has supported:

  • tuition-free college at two-year and four-year public colleges and universities for borrowers who earn up to $125,000 in annual income; and
  • doubling the maximum Pell Grant award.

Sanders and Warren both championed tuition-free college in the U.S. Senate and on the presidential campaign trail. Like wide-scale student loan cancellation, Congress has yet to pass tuition-free college. (If you’re waiting for student loan forgiveness, do this).

Harris also would cancel student loans for these student loan borrowers

Harris, like Biden, has advocated for cancelling student loan debt for student loan borrowers at at Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HCBU’s) and Minority-Serving Institutions (MSI’s). “In relation to the history of HBCUs, [students] decide to take on a profession of service, which often does not pay as well as if they go into the private sector and do other things,” Harris said. “So for those students who come out and have jobs that pay less than $125,000, student-loan debt will also be forgiven.”

Over the coming months and year, Harris, with Biden, could play a key role to shape the future of student loans, student loan forgiveness and student loan relief. The most recent extension of student loan relief for 90 days is one example. However, student loan relief won’t last forever. It’s also possible that Congress won’t pass legislation that reforms student loans. Until then, make sure you understand your options for student loan repayment.

Here are some popular ways to pay off student loans faster:

Student Loans: Related Reading

Is student debt cancellation next?

Student loan borrowers will get $15 billion of student loan cancellation

Do this while waiting for student loan forgiveness

Biden extended student loan relief, but advocates really want student loan cancellation

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