Washington, D.C. — As the Trump administration fails to take serious action to address the historic student loan debt crisis, the Center for American Progress Action Fund is releasing a new video as part of a social media campaign to educate Americans on the impacts of this issue. The campaign will tell the stories of Americans like Danielle Murray, an elementary school teacher from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, who, at 41 years old, is still paying off her student loans. Murray, the first in her family to attend college, is preparing to send her son off to college and worries about the impact that crippling student loan debt will have on his future.
“I never thought that I would still be paying off my own student loans as I’m preparing to send my own son off to college,” she says. “For my son Ryan, I’m determined to make sure that he has the best educational opportunities, and I want him to be able to graduate college debt free, but the reality of the situation is that I’m still paying off my student loans.”
In 2019, the U.S. student loan debt reached an estimated $1.56 trillion collectively owed by approximately 44 million borrowers, placing student debt in the second-highest consumer debt category, behind mortgage debt. President Trump vowed to make fixing the student debt crisis a priority for his administration, saying in an address at the White House, “Student loan debt. I’m going to work to fix it. Because it’s outrageous what’s happening. You’re not given that fair start.” President Trump’s promise to tackle the historic student loan debt crisis could have enormous economic impacts on families like Murray’s who face generational college debt; however, Murray says that they are still waiting on solutions.
“President Trump can tell people what they want to hear, but a promise is just a word,” she says. “I’m sitting here and I’m waiting for him to decide that he’s going to act on student loan debt and help out hardworking families like myself.”
In March, the Trump administration proposed changes to the Higher Education Act, including capping the amount of loans that students and parents can take out and reducing the number of loan repayment plans aimed at giving borrowers choices on the best ways to repay their loans. If implemented, these proposals would, in effect, lower the amount of federal aid for middle- and working-class families and limit repayment flexibility. Murray says that we need leadership that truly understands how the debt crisis affects working class families.
“Politicians and the leaders of our country need to realize there has to be a fix to this cycle of student loan debt,” she says. “Student loan debt shouldn’t span multi-generations. You shouldn’t have parents and students paying off student loans at the same time.”
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