AOC Has Student Loan Debt—Why She's Pushing for Loan Forgiveness

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Dec. 15 2021, Published 1:35 p.m. ET

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (N.Y.-Dem.), or AOC, isn't shy about her views on certain policy initiatives. After all, she has joined protestors multiple times, which suggests that she's more interested in tackling hard issues than satisfying the status quo. AOC's views on student loan debt are equally intense, and she wants them to be forgiven.

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Here's how much student loan debt AOC has herself and how she hopes to shift the policy to ease the student loan debt problem across the U.S.

AOC wants student loan debt forgiven.

In early December, AOC spoke about the mounting pressure of student loan debt. She said about student loans, "This is getting ridiculous."

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AOC is a first-generation college student. She didn't pursue a graduate degree because she didn't want to have more debt than she already carried. She knows that innumerable Americans are feeling the heat as repayments are poised to begin on February 1, 2022. In fact, 45 million Americans carry a collective $1.7 trillion in student loan debt.

As AOC puts it, "65 percent of all jobs in this country require an education beyond high school." That's why she believes the U.S. government is morally obligated to cancel student loans and forgive debt pertaining to higher education.

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How much student loan debt does AOC have?

In 2019, AOC made a statement when she processed a student loan payment worth more than $1,200 during a committee meeting. She left the meeting with a student loan balance of about $19,000. She has since gotten that number down to $17,000, which doesn't sounds like a big difference, but let's not forget that student loan forbearance has been in effect since March 2020.

AOC's opponents say that she just wants her own debt gone.

AOC's opponents, namely conservative Republicans, consider AOC's efforts to squash student debt as a way to get her own debt erased. They argue that AOC is a wealthy member of Congress earning $174,000 per year in salary.

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In response, AOC said that first-generation college students are twice as likely to be behind in making student loan payments. This means that failing to cancel student loans impacts the poor and middle-class directly.

Will AOC's efforts impact the state of student loan debt in the U.S.?

College graduates from the class of 2020 carry an average of $29,927 in student loan debt with them. AOC views this as a worsening problem. She wants President Biden to forgive upwards of $50,000 in student loan debt per borrower.

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Also, AOC wants to reform the student loan process so young people know what they're getting themselves into and what their future careers might look like before they take on a massive debt burden.

The student loan forbearance program is nearing its end, with a repayment start date of February 1, 2022. However, the PSLF (Public Service Loan Forgiveness) program is going through some changes. This could increase the rate of forgiveness for military members and other federal, state, local, or tribal government or not-for-profit employees.

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