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Beto O’Rourke says all student loan debt for public school teachers should be forgiven.
Here’s what you need to know.
Proposal: Forgive all student loan debt for public school teachers
O’Rourke, a 2020 presidential candidate and a former Texas congressman, joins the cadre of Democratic candidates who have called for student loan forgiveness.
At a National Education Association candidate forum Friday, O’Rourke said teachers should focus on teaching and not have to worry about student loan debt repayment or working a second or third job. As such, O’Rourke believes that the U.S. government should forgive 100% of student loan debt for public school teachers. O’Rourke also shared other aspects of his educational policy goals, which he also shared in a tweet, including but not limited to:
- “the right to organize
- paid family leave
- affordable child care
- universal pre-K
- universal health care
- a minimum wage that is a living wage”
Teacher Loan Forgiveness
Currently, the federal government offers up to $17,500 of student loan forgiveness for teachers who meet certain eligibility requirements. Through the Teacher Loan Forgiveness Program, teachers can receive student loan forgiveness on their Direct Subsidized and Unsubsidized Loans and their Subsidized and Unsubsidized Federal Stafford Loans when they teach full-time for five complete and consecutive academic years in a low-income school or educational service agency and meet other qualifications. At least one of those academic years must be after the 1997-1998 school year.
O’Rourke’s proposal differs from the current Teach Loan Forgiveness Program in several ways. First, it would have no limit on the amount of student loan forgiveness, which compares to a maximum of $17,500 under the current program. Second, it would apply to all public school teachers, not only those who work in low-income school or educational service agencies. Third, it may not have a five-year teaching requirement.
Absent more details, it’s unclear whether O’Rourke’s plan would also include private student loans and how he would pay for his teacher student loan forgiveness plan.
(If you’re a student loan borrower who is not sure whether you qualify for student loan forgiveness, student loan refinancing and other options, this free student loan repayment quiz can tell you in one minute whether you qualify).
Teacher Loan Forgiveness: Comparison To Warren and Sanders Plans
While O’Rourke’s plan universally applies to public school teachers, the proposal is more narrowly tailored than the student loan forgiveness plans proposed by fellow presidential candidates, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT). Both Warren and Sanders offer a more widespread and comprehensive form of student loan forgiveness.
Warren’s plan would cancel student loan debt for more than 95% of borrowers, and would entirely cancel student loan debt for more than 75% of Americans with student loan debt.
- Cancel $50,000 in student loan debt for every person with household income under $100,000.
- Provide substantial debt cancellation for every person with household income between $100,000 and $250,000.
- Not tax as income student loan debt that has been cancelled.
- Also make private student loan debt eligible for cancellation.
- Streamline the student loan debt forgiveness process using data and income information already available to the federal government.
Importantly, Warren’s plan offers no student loan debt cancellation to borrowers with a household income above $250,000, which she says is the top 5% of earners. There would also be “phase-outs” based on income.
Sanders’ plan will have no eligibility criteria and will forgive approximately $1.6 trillion of student loan debt for the nation’s approximately 45 million student loan borrowers of both federal student loans and private student loans. Sanders will fund his student loan forgiveness plan through a new tax on financial transactions, which he expects could raise more than $2 trillion over the next 10 years. The tax plan will include a 0.5% fee on all stock trades, a 0.1% fee on all bond trades and a 0.005% fee on all derivatives trades.
Warren, Sanders and O’Rourke are not the only 2020 candidates who have proposed student loan forgiveness in some form or tuition-free college. The 2020 presidential race is setting up an economic debate about how student loan debt and college tuition get addressed. There are many moving parts and considerations.
Expect the debate to continue whether federal taxpayers should forgive student loan debt in part or en masse to help spearhead economic growth or whether student loan borrowers – like others who have mortgage, auto or credit card debt – will need to pay back the debt they borrowed. Stay tuned.
July 8, 2019 at 08:34AM
Forbes – Entrepreneurs