By Carlotta Mohamed
State Assemblyman Ron Kim (D-Flushing) issued a letter calling for New York’s Congressional members and candidates to pledge their support towards cancelling student debt.
Kim stood on the steps of City Hall Oct. 10 with local elected officials, leaders and representatives of 21 organizations who co-signed his letter taking a stand against increasing the financial debt that is burdening student borrowers across the nation.
“Instead of giving away trillions of dollars to corporations that simply buy back their stocks and reward their top executives and investors, we must find the political courage to put that money towards relieving the middle class by canceling the nation’s $1.6 trillion student debt. With Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination to the Supreme Court and Betsy DeVos leading a national agenda that empowers lenders and collectors to financially cripple future generations, we must act now.”
According to Kim, in New York, roughly 13 percent of the $82 billion in student debt owed by three million borrowers is delinquent.
“That’s around 400,000 New Yorkers about to default on $410 billion in loans,” said Kim.
In Kim’s Oct. 10 correspondence to President Trump and New York’s Congressional Delegation and candidates, the Assemblyman says that adults in student debt collectively owe $34.8 billion, and their ability to repay their debt varies dramatically by neighborhoods mirroring existing income disparities between different communities.
“Higher-income areas default the least, while lower-income areas have the highest delinquency and default rates,” Kim said in the letter.
According to Kim, earlier this year the Levy Economics Institute of Bard College published “The Macroeconomic Effects of Student Debt Cancellation” which outlines the potential short and long-term socio-economic benefits of total cancellation of student debt.
Some key highlights from the study include: eliminating student debt will reduce the average unemployment rate by 0.22 to 0.36 percentage points over a 10-year forecast; and peak job creation in the first few years following the elimination of student loan debt would add roughly 1.2 million to 1.5 million new jobs per year.
State Sen. Kevin Parker (D-East Flatbush) said they’re urging members of Congress to act swiftly to prepare legislation that will afford individuals a fair and equal opportunity for a better life by cancelling student debt.
“We have to take a stand to ensure that people in our communities — our children and those who may want to return to school to improve their quality of life, are not deterred because of the fear of accumulating student loan debt that they will have to spend a good part of their life paying off,” said Parker.
Reach reporter Carlotta Mohamed by e-mail at cmoha