PHOENIX - Wiping out student loan debt has been a hot topic of discussion for a long time. Now, amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, U.S. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Massachusetts Democratic Senator Elizabeth Warren are leading the charge, asking President Joe Biden to make it happen.
"We are here today to introduce our proposal to cancel $50,000 in student debt," said Sen. Schumer.
Sen. Schumer said executive action to do so would bring a boost to the nation's economy and take the financial burden off of many Americans. Currently, the nation's student loan debt balance is $1.68 trillion, the highest it has been in history.
Since taking office on Jan. 20, President Biden has already signed nearly 30 executive orders, including putting a pause on student loan payments. According to a report by the Associated Press, President Biden previously had said he supports erasing up to $10,000 in student debt through legislation, but he had not shown interest in pursuing executive action.
Meanwhile, legal scholars have fallen on either side of the issue of whether President Biden has the power himself to address loan relief, with some saying the move would be unlikely to survive a legal challenge.
ASU students speak out
As government leaders debate on student loan relief, students approaching the end of their higher education at Arizona State University are sounding off.
"With the pandemic and with the climate of our country and just with the economic situation right now, I do think that students deserve to have a little bit of forgiveness," said Lauren Loucks, a graduate student at ASU.
"I'm going to have over $150,000 of debt," said law student Katarina Hernandez, who is graduating in two years. "That's gonna be difficult. Kinda trying to get my career started."
Some students, however, don't agree with student loan forgiveness.
"My significant other, he went into trades and he makes a lot more money than what I'm gonna make out of college, so I don't think taxpayers should have to pick up the bill to pay for my choice," said Chelsey Aubol Srinsky. She says she will be $30,000 in debt when she enters the workforce.
Some students, like law student Nik Thompson, say they will believe it when they see it.
"That's why I'm here at law school, trying to make money to pay that back, so we'll see what happens," said Thompson.