Bernie Sanders Proposes Student Loan Cancellation for All

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Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) unveiled a major student loan policy position Monday, adding “Debt Forgiveness for All” to his already-announced College for All Act proposal.

The 2020 presidential candidate announced his intention to cancel America’s $1.56 trillion federal and private student loan debt, calling it a “revolutionary proposal.”

“In a generation hard hit by the Wall Street crash of 2008, it 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,” Sanders’ prepared remarks said.

Sanders made the announcement with several other lawmakers, including Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) who planned to introduce similar legislation in the House that would eliminate all U.S. student debt.

Student debt has become a major issue in the race for the Democratic Party nomination for president, with rival candidate Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) unveiling a debt relief plan in April. Warren’s proposal offers $640 billion of loan cancellations, doled out to borrowers based on their household income. She estimated that 3 of every 4 borrowers would zero their balance through her program, and that more than 95% would receive at least partial repayment assistance.

Sanders’ proposal goes one big step further, promising loan forgiveness to every borrower — without considering each borrower’s capacity to repay their debt. A dentist repaying a six-figure debt on a six-figure salary, for example, would stand to benefit in the same way as a dental hygienist, assistant and secretary working in the same office.

The Associated Press reported that Sanders’ plan would save the average borrower about $3,000 per year. It wasn’t immediately clear whether refinanced student loans would also be included.

Sanders planned to pay for his policy proposal with a tax on stock and bond transactions that he said would gather as much as $2 trillion in a decade. Warren, for her part, has said her plan would be financed via a tax on 2% annual tax on wealth surpassing $50 million.

The other aspects of Sanders “College for All” legislation remain in place. He espouses a tuition- and fee-free experience for current and future college students. As with his new forgiveness plans, College for All awards would be given regardless of whether the student’s family could reasonably expect to cover costs.

During the announcement on Monday, Sanders declined to compare his plan with Warren’s. He was asked why his plan helps all borrowers and families, not just those hailing from the lower or middle classes.

“I happen … to believe in universality,” Sanders said. “And that means if [President] Donald Trump wants to send his grandchildren to a public school [for free], he has the right to do that … We are saying today that public colleges and universities should be tuition-free and debt-free for all Americans.”

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College Ave Student Loans products are made available through either Firstrust Bank, member FDIC or M.Y. Safra Bank, FSB, member FDIC. All loans are subject to individual approval and adherence to underwriting guidelines. Program restrictions, other terms, and conditions apply.

(1)All rates shown include the auto-pay discount.  The 0.25% auto-pay interest rate reduction applies as long as a valid bank account is designated for required monthly payments. Variable rates may increase after consummation.

(2)This informational repayment example uses typical loan terms for a freshman borrower who selects the Deferred Repayment Option with a 10-year repayment term, has a $10,000 loan that is disbursed in one disbursement and a 8.35% fixed Annual Percentage Rate (“APR”): 120 monthly payments of $179.18 while in the repayment period, for a total amount of payments of $21,501.54. Loans will never have a full principal and interest monthly payment of less than $50. Your actual rates and repayment terms may vary.

(3)As certified by your school and less any other financial aid you might receive. Minimum $1,000.

Information advertised valid as of 11/4/2019. Variable interest rates may increase after consummation.


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  1. Students who get at least a 3.0 GPA (or equivalent) qualify for a one-time cash reward on each new Discover undergraduate and graduate student loan. Reward redemption period is limited. Please visit DiscoverStudentLoans.com/Reward for any applicable reward terms and conditions.
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Published in News & Policy, Student Loan Forgiveness

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