Why Professors and Higher Ed Instructors Support Full Student Debt Cancellation and Tuition-Free College

Are you a Professor or Higher Educational Instructor that supports full student debt cancelation and Free College? Are you a student and want to help grow the movement to #CancelStudentDebt and make College Free for All? Send this letter to your professors and instructors!


Today, more than 45 million student debtors are burdened by nearly $1.8 trillion in student debt. student loans disproportionately weigh on the most marginalized communities. Four years after graduating, the average loan balances of Black student debtors are more than double that of their white counterparts, due to discrepancies that can be traced to employment discrimination, racial wage gaps, and differentials in intergenerational wealth.

Rising student debt causes instructional harm, by forcing students to choose programs of study that will best service their debt rather than fulfill social and personal needs (i.e would-be public interest attorneys enter corporate law instead in order to pay back their student loans). Many faculty are ourselves student debtors. The adjunctification of the university has made it more difficult for faculty to pay back their loans. The student debt crisis is part and parcel of the faculty labor crisis.

Since March 2020, federal student loan interest and payments have been paused — proving that the federal government doesn’t actually need our student loan payments to function. But the countdown clock is ticking to the May 1st deadline for lifting the moratorium .

Through executive action, President Biden has the complete legal authority to eliminate student loan debt on his own — without Congress – and it is a step supported by a majority of Americans. In fact, the Debt Collective has already written an executive order President Biden could sign today to end this financial burden. We see universal debt cancellation as a powerful first step in the process of reinvestment in quality public education. We know that subsequent steps will require the fight for state reinvestment, high quality and diverse curricula, robust research support, and the de-adjunctification of our workforce.

Research from the Levy Institute and the Roosevelt Institute shows that a full jubilee—an erasure of all student loans currently on the books—would not only be a substantial boost to GDP but also a significant narrowing of the racial wealth gap, and therefore a means to begin addressing the need for reparations in and through higher education. Far from a boon to the already-wealthy, the vast majority of the benefits of universal debt discharge would go to the bottom 20% of households. The largest impact, in proportion to household wealth, would be on Black and Latinx families and communities, and women in those communities in particular, who hold the disproportionate share of the debt load. In addition, a significant percentage of student debtors were defrauded by for-profit colleges (which intentionally target and exploit marginalized communities) and these students routinely carry high debt burdens, often without ever having graduated.

A demand for universal student debt relief, along with continued pressure for tuition-free public college, unites tens of millions of people around a commonly shared idea. In other industrialized countries, higher education, like healthcare, is regarded as a public good and as a right, but in the U.S., it has been turned into an expensive commodity. Now is the time to reclaim the vocation of learning to which we have devoted our careers.

Universal debt cancellation would be the first serious step toward the goal of College for All that we have seen in our lifetime.

We, the undersigned, stand in firm support of universal debt cancellation as a pathway to tuition-free higher education at public colleges and universities.  

We pledge to form, or support, faculty-student pressure groups on our own campuses to actively promote these twin goals.

We pledge to actively support efforts by national political, educational or labor groups willing to fight for these goals.


Read the signatories here: We the Undersigned

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