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Sanders to Propose Canceling $1.6 Trillion in Student Debt

Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders in Columbia, S.C., June 22, 2019. (Randall Hill/Reuters)

Senator Bernie Sanders, one of the top-tier candidates for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination, plans to unveil a proposal Monday to cancel all U.S. student loan debt.

The College for All Act would cover $1.6 trillion in student debt and would affect 45 million Americans who would save on average about $3,000 a year. The entire plan would come with a price tag of $2.2 billion to the taxpayer, paid for by a 0.5 percent tax on stock trades, a 0.1 percent tax on bonds, and a 0.005 percent tax on derivatives.

“In a generation hard hit by the Wall Street crash of 2008, [the plan] forgives all student debt and ends the absurdity of sentencing an entire generation to a lifetime of debt for the ‘crime’ of getting a college education,” the Vermont progressive plans to say in introducing the proposal.

Sanders’s plan is wider-ranging than that of his 2020 rival, Senator Elizabeth Warren, whose platform includes forgiving $50,000 in student debt for those now earning $100,000 or less, and some loan forgiveness for those earning more than that. Warren’s plan would affect only 42 million people.

Both Sanders and Warren also want to make public colleges and universities free for students. Sanders further wants to lower the interest rates on federal student loans, eliminating any profit the federal government earns from the loans, and to reform student-loan refinancing.

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