AFT President Randi Weingarten and Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) spoke March 6 at the Washington, D.C., launch of “Higher Ed, Not Debt,” a new multiyear campaign advocating for affordable access to higher education for all without the burden of debt or financial hardship.
The AFT is one of more than 60 national and state-based organizations supporting the campaign.
“We can no longer be a nation that tells our young people college is really important, while at the same time saddling them with crushing debt and slashing investments in the programs and supports that could enable them to achieve their dreams,” Weingarten said.
Warren said that student debt, which now stands at a staggering $1.2 trillion, is hurting our college students and dragging down our economy. “We need to work together to bring down the rising cost of college, and we need to help existing borrowers deal with their debt by allowing them to refinance their student loans at today’s lower interest rates.” The campaign will provide support to current borrowers struggling with existing debt, address the causes of declining affordability and quality, highlight Wall Street’s role in the privatization of higher education, and demand action on the issue of higher education debt across the country.
The work is based on four core principles:
• Providing support to borrowers currently paying off the existing $1.2 trillion of debt;
• Addressing the causes of declining affordability and quality, including changes to state funding and financial aid policies;
• Educating the public about Wall Street’s complicity in the creation of the $1.2 Trillion student debt crisis; and
• Civic engagement across all geographic, demographic and political lines.