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Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Elizabeth Warren says she’s working with Congressman Jim Clyburn to help students with the burden of college debt.

“It is really important that we focus on how we’re going to make a difference in people’s lives,” Warren said during a forum in Orangeburg.

“Our job in the United States Congress is to make this country’s greatness accessible and affordable to all of its citizens,” Clyburn stated.

Clyburn, the House majority whip, and Warren discussed their Student Loan Debt Relief Act during a town hall event on the campus of South Carolina State University on Wednesday evening.

Student loan debt affects nearly 45 million Americans carrying $1.5 trillion in debt, they say.

Their bill would essentially cancel student loan debt for 42 million Americans.

Warren said, “The interest rates and fees are going up so fast.

“The interest and fees are starting to accumulate, it’s like a snowball rolling downhill, that the amount of student loan debt is going up annually at a rate of about $100 billion a year. And it’s just rolling over an entire generation of young people.”

The problem is falling particularly hard on African-American students, she said.

African-American students are more likely to borrow money for college, borrow more money while in college and more likely to have trouble paying it off after they get out of college, according to Warren.

“We are disproportionately crushing a generation of students of color. That is not how a country builds the future, and we’ve got to change that,” Warren stated.

Supporters say the bill will reduce the black-white wealth gap and boost the economy.

It would, among other things:

• Cancel up to $50,000 in student loan debt for borrowers with $100,000 or less in household income. It would also provide some relief for wealthier households.

• Repair the defaulted credit of borrowers who have had their loans discharged.

• Automatically refinance remaining federal student loans to the interest rates specified in the Bank on Student Emergency Loan Refinancing Act.

• Allow borrowers to discharge their loans in bankruptcy.

During the question-and-answer portion of the event, an audience member asked what can be done to stop the predatory lending of some student loan agencies.

Warren noted that the bill directly addresses the question.

“We put, right into our bill, a cap on interest rates. It is a low cap on interest rates. Moves a little bit with inflation because you’ve got to have a little bit of flexibility in the system,” Warren stated.

Warren said while the bill may not get passed until 2021, the introduction of the bill is important and will start a chain reaction.

“I get it. Right now Mitch McConnell’s not likely to get us a vote in the Senate on this, but the importance of being able to lift this up in the House, the importance of being able to start hearings on this, the importance of making this part of the agenda for how we understand, as Democrats, to build the future, not just for some of our kids, but to build a future for all of our kids cannot be overstated,” Warren stated.

Warren also stated that even if she is not elected president, she will still be pushing the legislation.

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Contact the writer: bharris@timesanddemocrat.com or 803-533-5516

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Staff Writer

Bradley Harris is a Government and Sports Reporter. The Irmo, SC native is a 2018 graduate of Claflin University and recipient of the 2018 South Carolina Press Association Collegiate Journalist of the Year Award.

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