Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

Ro Khanna cancel student debt

Rep. Ro Khanna (D-Calif.) joins student debtors to once again call on President Joe Biden to cancel student debt at an April 27, 2022 demonstration outside the White House in Washington, D.C. (Photo: Paul Morigi/Getty Images for We The 45 Million)

Khanna Shares Personal Struggle in Call for Biden to Cancel Student Debt

"If Democrats want to regain the trust of people across the country," the California progressive writes, "we need to deliver on the things that materially improve people's lives."

Brett Wilkins

Progressive U.S. lawmaker Ro Khanna on Monday shared his personal struggle repaying college loans while calling on President Joe Biden to free millions of Americans from the burden of student debt.

"The best way to start the new school year for everyone saddled with crushing student loans would be for Biden to free them of this burden."

"When I was younger, I took out more than $100,000 in student loans to pay for higher education," Khanna (D-Calif.) wrote in a Washington Post op-ed. "After graduation, I struggled to make monthly payments and had to take a year forbearance, digging myself deeper into debt."

Acknowledging that "promising career opportunities" allowed him to repay his collegiate debt, the Yale Law School graduate and former Silicon Valley attorney and corporate executive said that he did not "want others who haven't gotten the same breaks I did to struggle and feel that the American Dream is out of reach."

"Millions of Americans who took out student loans and paid them off feel the same way I do," wrote Khanna. "We are not a nation of Scrooges."

The lawmaker continued:

As a member of Congress, I've spoken to young people across the country and asked them what Democrats can do to make their lives tangibly better. From San Jose to West Virginia, I hear the same answer: Cancel student debt. President Biden has the authority to do this with the stroke of a pen for borrowers struggling to make ends meet. The more forgiveness, the better...

Canceling student loan debt for working and middle-class Americans is the right thing to do. No one should be prevented from pursuing higher education because they can't afford the financial burden it poses. Furthermore, it makes economic sense: Relief from student debt would help young people buy homes, build wealth, and otherwise grow our economy.

Noting that Biden promised to cancel at least $10,000 in student loan debt for all borrowers, Khanna asserted that "this is a moment that demands bold action."

"If he can cancel student debt for some," he said of the president, "then he can cancel it for all those in need."

"If Democrats want to regain the trust of people across the country both young and old, rural and urban, and across lines of race, gender, and class, we need to deliver on the things that materially improve people's lives," Khanna argued. "I'm encouraged that Biden has committed to make a decision by August 31 on student loan cancellation and has told my colleagues he is inclined to do something."

"The best way to start the new school year for everyone saddled with crushing student loans would be for Biden to free them of this burden," he stressed.

Khanna wasn't the only one who published a Post op-ed calling on the president to relieve student debt on Monday. Columnist Perry Bacon Jr. also made the political case for cancellation, arguing that there are three electoral reasons to do so: "to appeal to younger voters and those with debt, to please the Democratic base, and to give Biden's presidency momentum."

"Polls show that a plurality and, in some surveys, a clear majority of Americans support debt relief and that the minority in opposition is largely conservatives and Republicans, who are going to vote against the Democrats anyway," Bacon noted, before acknowledging the limitations of the policy.

"Biden should forgive student loans because it would help millions of people—not because it will ensure Democrats win the midterms, because it probably won't do that," he wrote. "But there are real reasons to think that debt forgiveness is that rare thing in Washington: good politics and good policy at once."


Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.

We've had enough. The 1% own and operate the corporate media. They are doing everything they can to defend the status quo, squash dissent and protect the wealthy and the powerful. The Common Dreams media model is different. We cover the news that matters to the 99%. Our mission? To inform. To inspire. To ignite change for the common good. How? Nonprofit. Independent. Reader-supported. Free to read. Free to republish. Free to share. With no advertising. No paywalls. No selling of your data. Thousands of small donations fund our newsroom and allow us to continue publishing. Can you chip in? We can't do it without you. Thank you.

Massive Demonstration of Support for Lopez Obrador in Mexico City

AMLO was elected in 2018 and heralded as the Bernie Sanders of Mexico.

Common Dreams staff ·


Scientists Revive ‘Zombie’ Virus After 50,000 Years Trapped in Siberian Permafrost

Researchers documented 13 never-before-seen viruses that have been lying dormant, frozen in thick ice, over tens of thousands of years.

Common Dreams staff ·


'Cleaner Air Is Coming' as London Expands Vehicle Pollution Fee to Entire Metro Area

"Around 4,000 Londoners die prematurely each year because of long-term exposure to air pollution, with the greatest number of deaths in outer London boroughs," noted Mayor Sadiq Khan in announcing the expansion.

Brett Wilkins ·


'Amazing News': Historic Shark Protections Approved at Global Wildlife Convention

Up to 90% of sharks targeted by the lucrative fin trade will now be protected, said one advocate.

Julia Conley ·


'The Nightmare Materializes': Far-Right Extremist Itamar Ben-Gvir to Be Israel's National Security Minister

The Foreign Affairs Ministry of the Palestinian Authority said Ben-Gvir's elevation to national security minister could have a "catastrophic impact on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict."

Jake Johnson ·

Common Dreams Logo