Chuck Schumer calls out Biden for dragging his feet on the student debt crisis: 'Students don't need their debts paused - they need it erased'

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Chuck Schumer calls out Biden for dragging his feet on the student debt crisis: 'Students don't need their debts paused - they need it erased'
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY). Drew Angerer/Getty Images
  • Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer called on Biden to cancel student debt during a virtual summit.
  • He said the student-loan payment freeze did not provide the relief borrowers deserve.
  • Biden has not yet commented on whether he will cancel $50,000 in student debt per borrower.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer doesn't think President Joe Biden has done enough when it comes to his campaign promise of forgiving student-loan debt.

Biden did extend the pandemic pause on student-loan payments through the end of January, but "there's more that needs to be done," Schumer said during remarks at a virtual summit held by the Student Debt Crisis Center. "Students don't need their debts paused - they need it erased."

The advocacy group hosted Schumer, Massachusetts Rep. Ayanna Pressley, and other advocates in calling for $50,000 in student debt cancellation for every borrower burdened by the $1.7 trillion student debt crisis. Schumer has been one of the leaders in calling on Biden to cancel student debt using executive action, and he said during the summit that the growing student debt in the country has become "an anchor weighing down the American Dream."

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"That sacred promise that if you work hard, if you play by the rules, one day, you're going to make it here in America," Schumer said. "For too many, that dream sadly seems like a fantasy."

Insider previously reported that while Biden has canceled $9.5 billion in student debt for targeted groups of people, that's still less than 1% of the entire student loan portfolio in the country, and Schumer said that while those cancellations are a step in the right direction, "it falls very short of what we wish to see" with regards to broad student-debt cancellation.

And although student-loan payments have been on pause for a year and a half, many borrowers still don't feel ready to resume payments in February. Insider reported on Monday that Richard Cordray, head of the Federal Student Aid (FSA) office, acknowledged in a speech last week that many borrowers were counting on student-debt cancellation and will face a "psychological hurdle" when they have to start making payments again in January.

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Insider previously spoke with Gwen Carney, a 61-year-old single grandmother raising three grandchildren, who said she's "really not looking forward to February at all."

"Restarting payments makes me very anxious because I somehow have to find that extra $200," Carney told Insider. "I just don't have it."

The Education and Justice Departments are reviewing Biden's authority to cancel $50,000 in student debt - what Schumer is pushing for - via executive action, but it's been months and there is no word on where those reviews stand. Schumer promised on Tuesday to keep pressuring Biden to lift the student-debt burden and deliver on his campaign promises.

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"It's unacceptable, it's un-American. And at the rate we're going, it's unsustainable," Schumer said. "So, with Joe Biden in the White House and Democratic majorities in the House and Senate, the time is now to take action against the burden of student debt and give student loan borrowers the long sought relief they deserve."

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