Clyburn, Warren answer student debt questions

Nov 10, 2019

The town hall on student debt was held Oct. 9 at South Carolina State University. (Panther photo by Sarina Parker)

(Cover photo by Jordan James)

S.C. Congressman James Clyburn and U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren held an Oct. 9 town hall meeting at South Carolina State University with the topic being their Student Loan Debt Relief Act.

“We’re here today because 10 years ago, the State of South Carolina funded 45% of the student cost of attendance at this college. Today that’s down to 11%,” Clyburn said. “As the state’s funding goes down, the cost of attendance goes up and student debt is just a killer now.”

In July, Clyburn and Warren introduced legislation to eliminate up to $50,000 in student loan debt for 42 million Americans, providing debt relief to 95% of student borrowers, including cancelling student debt entirely for 75% of borrowers.

Warren and Clyburn’s opening statements were followed by questions from the audience.

Charles C. Patton, a South Carolina State student and an Emily Clyburn Scholar, asked: “Sen. Warren, why did you think it was important to have this conversation with Congressman Clyburn focused on student loan debt here at South Carolina State University?”

Warren replied, “Because I believe in HBCUs and when the congressmen and I were first talking about how do we plan this issue out, he said “How about my alma mater?” and I said “You bet.”… HBCUs are a great place to see this issue up close and personal.”

Another audience question was, “How can your bill currently help students that are already in debt and have not finished their undergraduate programs?”

Clyburn stated: “We looked at the bill and we are trying to cancel up to $50,000 of debt. That will be canceled. If you are over $50,000 and say you have $75,000, you would still owe $25,000 and we would have to work out a way to get that paid. All of this is in the legislation and we won’t get too much into it today, but we are trying to make sure that we get those who need help the help they need.”

Another question focused on how fast the senator and congressman are planning on eliminating the debt.

“I'll just be blunt with all of you. Right now, Mitch McConnell is not likely to give 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 a future not just for some of our kids, but to build a future for all of our kids, cannot be overstated," Warren said. 

“It's about how we build a future as a country, and it's also about what kind of a people we are. Who is it we believe we should be investing in? And Congressman Clyburn and I are here today because we believe that the way we invest in a future for all of Americans, is first of all, let's get rid of this student loan debt. So, thank you all for being here,” Warren said.

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