Last week, Reps. Marcia Fudge (D-Ohio), Keith Ellison (D-Minn.) and Raúl Grijalva (D-Ariz.) joined with leaders from Student Debt Crisis, Social Security Works, Project Springboard, CREDO, the Campaign for America’s Future, the AFL-CIO, AFSCME, the AFT and others to deliver 375,000 petition signatures to the U.S, Department of Education urging an end to the garnishment of Social Security benefits in order to repay student debt. The three members of Congress also delivered a congressional letter with a similar message.
Some of the key quotes from those that participated in the petition delivery are offered below.
Garnishing Social Security benefits for student loan debt is a significant blow to our seniors, especially when a growing percentage of older Americans rely on the program as their sole source of income. Social Security is not just another check for many Americans. It is an essential economic lifeline. College and advanced training should be affordable and not create a financial burden that continues into retirement. Our federal government should not punish Americans for striving for a better opportunity or supporting children and other family members working hard to pursue their dreams.
Americans know that going to college helps pave the way to more opportunities. But the high costs of tuition and student loans leave people of all ages with huge amounts of student debt. It’s wrong to garnish the small Social Security checks of older and disabled people in order to pay for their student loans. People should not lose their hard-earned benefits—averaging only $1,200/month—in order to pay their student loans. We should find ways to offer more affordable education, lower interest rates and better repayment options. The administration has the power to stop this practice. Thank you to Social Security Works for their leadership on this issue and to every American who signed this petition.
Nancy Altman, president of Social Security Works, and Natalia Abrams, executive director of Student Debt Crisis, issued a statement as well:
As the heads of Social Security Works and Student Debt Crisis, we pledge that we will always fight in solidarity with each other. Those of us fighting to solve the student debt crisis will also fight to expand Social Security, including restoration of the student benefit; and those of us fighting to expand Social Security will fight to end the student debt crisis. We make these pledges because we know, the people united, can never be defeated.