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Hello, The fact that millions of Americans, particularly Black and Brown and low-income borrowers, are saddled with student loan debt is a shameful testament to the broken promise of the American Dream. Which is why we need President Biden to #CancelStudentDebt–borrowers immediately need their balances reduced. But this alone won’t solve the student debt crisis; Congress must fix the root of this issue by addressing the cost of college to ensure no one is ever put in the same situation as today’s borrowers. For decades, declining levels of public investment in colleges and universities have led to skyrocketing tuition which pushed the cost onto students and their families. Now, as 45 million Americans face a $1.7 trillion student debt crisis and a postsecondary degree is unaffordable and inaccessible, the promise of an equitable and quality education is broken. Nationally, there are huge attainment gaps (https://www.americanprogress.org/issues/education-postsecondary/news/2021/04/06/497888/building-college-educated-america-requires-closing-racial-gaps-attainment) between racial groups and economic classes. Due to systemic racism and factors like generational poverty, redlining, racist banking policies, educational segregation, the racial wealth gap, and the school-to-prison pipeline, Black students are more likely to need to borrow, borrow more, and take longer to pay off student loans. A low-income student is four times less likely to earn a bachelor’s degree than their wealthier peers. In addition, students with disabilities earn bachelor’s degrees at less than half the rate of adults without disabilities. This all paints the accurate picture of an American higher education system rooted in inequity. A college degree can be a ticket out of the cycle of poverty and into middle-class jobs. America’s economy today disproportionately rewards those with a college degree. The data show that college matters: graduates are more likely to have higher paying and better quality jobs, better benefits at those jobs, and the ability to access resources that positively impact their health and community. (https://www.americanprogress.org/issues/education-postsecondary/reports/2018/06/20/451899/beyond-tuition) I urge you to publicly support the free college legislation that is already available. This includes Senator Sanders’ College for All Act and Senator Schatz’s Debt-Free College Act, among others. Free college is urgently needed not just for future students, but for our society as a whole. Our youth must be informed, educated, and well-prepared to take on the mantle of improving America. In understanding and endorsing free college legislation, please consider the key tenets outlined in the following proposal from the Center for American Progress: Beyond Tuition. (https://www.americanprogress.org/issues/education-postsecondary/reports/2018/06/20/451899/beyond-tuition) It is a proposal to restore the promise of an affordable higher education for all and to reduce the burden of student debt. It also includes an emphasis on addressing widespread inequity in opportunity and outcomes. That starts with guaranteeing that a student’s background, particularly their race, ethnicity, gender, or socioeconomic status, will not limit their ability to access, afford, and complete college. Beyond Tuition rests on three core promises: - The affordability promise: No student should have to borrow for college costs. - The quality promise: All students are guaranteed a high-quality education that meets their needs. - The accountability promise: Everyone has a role in student access and success. Thank you for taking immediate action to both cancel student debt and make college equitably accessible in a way that strengthens the financial stability of young people and restores the American promise of higher education.