HAMPTON ROADS, Va. – A Change.org petition to get rid of student loan debt for millions of borrowers hit 830,000 signatures by Saturday evening and that number keeps growing by the hour.
Founder of StudentLoanJustice Alan Collinge started the petition in March. It’s been picking up steam as many Americans still find themselves out of work and out of options in the pandemic.
“This lending system is a joke,” Collinge said.
Collinge believes eliminating federal student loans – roughly 85 percent of all student debt – will jump-start the economy.
“The entire lending system is catastrophically failed,” Collinge said. “This pandemic gives us the perfect opportunity to both massively stimulate the economy without needing tax appropriation, without adding to the national debt, and also quite frankly, get rid of this nationally threatening lending system and come up with a far more fair, efficient, rational way to fund higher education in this country.”
Collinge is calling on President Trump or President-elect Biden to get it done by signing an executive order, and freeing up the more than one trillion dollars of total student loan debt he said borrowers are drowning in.
“Eighty percent of all borrowers were never going to be able to repay their loans even before the pandemic,” he said. “That is just a fact.”
ODU Economics Professor Bob McNab, Ph.D remains doubtful on widespread student loan forgiveness.
“If you look at President-elect Biden’s proposals, and you look at the composition of Congress as it stands now, I think there might be moderate relief in terms of lowering interest rates and increased forbearances of payments for people in economic difficulty,” said McNab. “But widescale adoption of student loan forgiveness for millions of borrowers is probably a bridge too far for 2021.”
The staggering federal deficit coupled with a strained economy because of COVID-19 is why McNab said total loan forgiveness likely won’t happen anytime soon.
Additionally, unless Congress acts, the relief period on federal student loans will end at midnight Dec. 31.
“We’re facing a period of economic uncertainty right now,” said McNab. “We still don’t have clarity on what an economic stimulus package might look like by the end of year, if any, and that uncertainty is going to hamper our prospects for recovery in 2021.”
“That’s complete nonsense,” he said. “There’s no better way to stimulate the economy right now than by canceling this catastrophically failed lending system. The taxpayers paid for these loans many years ago…. The taxpayers don’t need to pay twice.”
StudentLoanJustice started calling for the cancellation of loans in August 2019.
To sign the online petition, click here.
Meantime Collinge said he’ll continue his push to overhaul the current lending system and replace it with one he says is more rational.