student debt

Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., has pledged to cancel up to $50,000 of debt for 95% of student loan borrowers if she is elected president. Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., has proposed an even more generous plan if he's elected.

Education Secretary Betsy DeVos endured a withering barrage of questions on Thursday about her handling of a program meant to provide debt relief to federal student loan borrowers who say they were defrauded by for-profit colleges.

"Madame Secretary, your refusal to process claims is inflicting serious harm on students," Rep. Bobby Scott, D-Va., said in his opening statement. "These defrauded borrowers have been left with piles of debt, worthless degrees and none of the jobs that were promised."

Documents obtained by NPR shed new light on a bitter fight between defrauded student borrowers and U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos.

These borrowers — more than 200,000 of them — say some for-profit colleges lied to them about their job prospects and the transferability of credits. They argue they were defrauded and that the Education Department should erase their federal student loan debt under a rule called "borrower defense."

Updated Friday at 11:04 a.m. ET.

Lawmakers have called for an investigation into a troubled student loan discharge program one day after an NPR report revealed that the program — meant to erase the student debts of borrowers with significant, permanent disabilities — wasn't helping the vast majority of those who are eligible.

Denise had no idea her student loans could be erased. In 2007, a truck rear-ended her car. The accident ravaged her legs and back, and the pain made it impossible for her to work.

"I have basically been in pain — chronic pain — every day," says Denise, who asked that NPR not use her full name to protect her privacy. "I live a life of going to doctors constantly."

Updated at 12:26 p.m. ET

A nonprofit student loan group is suing the nation's most powerful consumer watchdog agency. The lawsuit, first obtained by NPR, alleges that the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has abandoned its obligation to oversee companies that manage student loans, in particular a troubled loan forgiveness program.

The U.S. Department of Education agreed to hand over department records late Thursday to Rep. Bobby Scott, D-Va., the Democratic chairman of the U.S. House education committee, just hours before Scott was set to subpoena Education Secretary Betsy DeVos for the records.

The information relates to the Education Department's unwillingness to fully forgive the federal student loans of borrowers who say they were defrauded by for-profit colleges, including the now-defunct Corinthian Colleges.

Updated at 4:20 p.m. ET

Twenty-three U.S. senators are calling on the nation's top consumer protection agency to investigate a loan servicer for its role in a troubled student loan forgiveness program. The program is designed to help public service workers like teachers and police officers.

The loan servicer, the Pennsylvania Higher Education Assistance Agency, better known as FedLoan and PHEAA, is one of the entities that handles the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program.

A new report from a government watchdog, first obtained by NPR, says an expanded effort by Congress to forgive the student loans of public servants is remarkably unforgiving.

Congress created the expansion program last year in response to a growing outcry. Thousands of borrowers — nurses, teachers and other public servants — complained that the requirements for the original program were so rigid and poorly communicated that lawmakers needed to step in. But, documents show, even this expansion of the Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) program isn't working.

Updated at 1:09 p.m. ET

Debbie Baker thought she qualified for a federal program that helps teachers such as her, as well as nurses, police officers, librarians and others. The Department of Education program forgives their federal student loans if they make their payments for 10 years and work in public service.

For 10 years, Baker, who was a public school teacher in Tulsa, Okla., checked in with loan servicing companies and was told she was on track.

Americans owe about $1.6 trillion in student loan debt. That's about twice the current budget for the Defense Department and around 22 times the budget for the Education Department.

Lots of people have student loans: more than 45 million people. They collectively owe about $1.6 trillion.

That is, of course, a lot of debt — but amid all the national debate right now about what to do about it, it's important to remember that not all debt is created equal, and some borrowers are struggling more than others.

Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren has issued another big policy proposal as part of her campaign for the Democratic presidential nomination in 2020. This one concerns higher education.

Warren proposes that the federal government write off hundreds of billions of dollars in existing student loan debt.

J. Scott Applewhite / Associated Press

Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) is pushing for a bill that would give states incentives to help students graduate from college debt-free.

Mitch Felan / WKSU

Betty Sutton, the Democratic candidate for lieutenant governor, made a stop at Kent State University Wednesday to talk about health care, women’s rights and student debt.

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