By Sheilagh Lichtenfels
Published: April 1st, 2016
Presidential hopeful Bernie Sanders announced, today, that he will be allotting a portion of his campaign contributions to forgive 100% of current Brooklyn College student debt, including state, federal, and private loans.
Sanders is living up to his stated commitment to free and affordable college education, especially at public colleges. He says this debt forgiveness initiative is the first of many steps he would take as president, to make college accessible to students of all economic classes and income levels.
“Too long the capitalist machine has been treating the students of this nation as profit generators. No longer will America’s youth be financially enslaved by their desire for higher education,” said Sanders, a self-described democratic socialist.
The popular 2016 candidate claims that he still feels loyal to his one-time home campus, and he believes this gesture of good faith will garner support from millennials nationally.
“This is a huge step for the campaign. Huge,” said Sanders. “This money is not coming from a super PAC, it’s not coming from the billionaires or the millionaires. It’s coming from the good people of these United States, and I’m giving it right back to them.”
Sanders grew up in Midwood and attended Brooklyn College from 1959 to 1960, so this gesture is deeply personal for him, and for the students on this campus.
“I was a full-on Trump supporter up until now,” says Kevin Bresnan, a senior and English Major. “But hell, Bernie has my vote.”
Marisa Chiarello, a communications major, said, “I was $10,000 in debt as of this year and I thought about just dropping out since I already have a job in my field. But I guess I’ll graduate now. Bernie 2016!”
The average yearly student debt incurred by BC undergraduates is about $5,125 per year, adding up to over $20,000 over four years. Paying off the debt of 14,207 undergrads is no small commitment, but Sanders is intent upon putting millions of his small, individual donations where his mouth is.
This debt forgiveness initiative could have a substantial impact on the New York primary on April 19 and other candidates have already begun responding.
Hillary Clinton tweeted, this morning, that she will be using a portion of her own campaign funds to forgive up to $1000 of student debt for undergraduates at Hunter College.