Press Release: A Presidential Pathway to Student Debt Relief

New report considers the possibility of implementing a student debt jubilee without further legislation, a previously unconsidered way to address the $1.6 trillion dollar student debt crisis in the US

NY, NY – Today, the Great Democracy Initiative (GDI) released An Administrative Path to Student Debt Cancellation to explain how a president could implement a debt cancellation program without action from Congress. Authored by Luke Herrine, a PhD candidate at Yale Law School and former legal director at the Debt Collective, the report argues that Congress has already given the Department of Education (ED) the ability to cancel the vast majority of student debt. 

Additionally, the GDI report reviews the probable legal hoops that the ED and other agencies in the executive branch would have to jump through in order to implement a student debt jubilee without further congressional action, as well as the potential legal and political challenges that they would face in doing so.

“All current proposals to cancel student debt would require passing legislation through both houses of Congress,” said Herrine. “My research indicates that other means are available. A president committed to relieving the burdens of student debt for millions of people would be well-advised to consider converting the Department of Education’s power of enforcement into the power of jubilee.”

Over the past few years, the idea to “cancel student debt” has moved from a radical slogan to a serious policy proposal. This report, which builds on continued research on executive action from GDI, shows that there is a true path forward to alleviate student debt. You can learn more about the Great Democracy Initiative’s work here.

About the Author

Luke Herrine is a PhD Candidate in Law at Yale Law School. Previously he served as the Legal Director of the Debt Collective, where he helped design the legal and organizing strategy that pressured the Department of Education to begin to cancel the debts of defrauded for-profit college students. He has also worked at the Furman Center on Real Estate and Urban Policy, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, and the Center for Human Rights and Global Justice. He clerked for The Honorable Rosemary Pooler on the Second Circuit Court of Appeals. His JD is from New York University School of Law.

About the Great Democracy Initiative

The Great Democracy Initiative seeks to develop bold, progressive, and actionable policy plans for leaders seeking solutions to key issues facing our country. Instead of proposing technocratic tweaks or layering new programs on top of a broken system, the Great Democracy Initiative targets the structural problems facing our democracy, including unaccountable policymakers, corporations with outsized economic and political power, and policies that subtly stack the deck against average Americans.