Student loan debt is a huge divider of people in America — and Project Springboard founder Melissa Byrne thinks canceling that debt is the first step to creating a more equal country.
“Getting the strength to talk about my student loans was a key turning point in my work as an organizer because economic shame is one of the most powerful weapons help by the monied elite,” she explained.
Byrne says the student loan system has been growing as a critical issue over the last decade and the rising cost of higher education affects every demographic. And Democrats have been stuck on the idea of refinancing the loans or targeted forgiveness programs.
“Refinancing loans only gives borrowers a little bit of relief,” she explained. “The problem with student loans is the principal, not only the interest rate. And as we are seeing now, barely anyone is actually qualifying for the federal public service loan forgiveness program.”
Byrne says if we reset the public debate on the crisis and cancel all outstanding student loan debt, the root of the problem is exposed: limiting access to higher education to people who can pay.
“Should the future of a student be limited to their parent’s income and wealth?” she asked. “For the last 30 years, the answer to the question has been yes.”