HOUSTON - More than half a million people have signed a petition asking President Trump to cancel federal student loan debt by executive order. Some members of Congress have called for it, too.
Nearly 45 million Americans owe an average of nearly $33,000 in student loan debt. Many say it's keeping them from buying houses, cars, or moving forward financially.
"Younger people aren't able to start families, they're not able to start businesses, and do all the normal things people do in the course of their lives," said Alan Collinge, founder of Student Loan Justice.
Many people struggle with student loan debt. Nearly 600,000 have signed a Change.org petition by Student Loan Justice to urge President Trump to cancel student loan debt through an executive order. The group's founder says the Higher Education Act gives the President the power to manage federal student loans.
"This would stand up to what has become a nationally threatening, big government lending program that is strangling the lives and livelihoods of 44 million people," said Collinge.
Presidential candidate and former Vice President Joe Biden and several Democratic Senators have all proposed some level of student loan forgiveness.
"There's no better opportunity than now, while we're throwing trillions of dollars in stimulus around the country, to quite frankly take this lending system to the bathroom and drown in it in the tub," said Collinge.
Meantime, some student loan forgiveness programs are available. Borrowers who work for the government or not-for-profit groups may qualify for forgiveness for Direct Loans after making 120 payments. And borrowers who teach for five years in low-income schools may be eligible for up to $17,500 off their Direct or Federal Family Education Loans.
To apply for these loan forgiveness programs, contact your loan servicer.
President Trump has not responded to the petition to wipe out the debt, but his executive order in August did pause federal student loan payments through December.