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Student loan officer resigns, calling for massive cancellation of debt



A. Wayne Johnson

Mirco Lazzari gp | Getty Images

A senior government official appointed by Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos resigned Thursday, saying the current student loan system is "fundamentally broken" and calls for billions of dollars to be forgiven.

A. Wayne Johnson is hired as Chief Operating Officer of the Federal Student Aid Office, which manages a $ 1

.6 trillion student loan portfolio in the country. He later worked in a strategic role, directing how student loans are served to borrowers.

Just last week, DeVos called Democrats' plans to erase student debt "crazy" in an interview with Fox News. "Who do they think will actually pay for them?" DeVos said.

Johnson tells The Wall Street Journal that he arrived at his place after watching the default payment and realized that most of the student debt would never be repaid .

In fact, for five years, half of the student loan borrowers have not paid even $ 1 for the principal of their debt, according to the Department of Education's own data. And 40% of student loan borrowers could meet their default obligations by 2023, according to an analysis by the Brookings Institution.

"We go through the process of this obligation to impose someone … but it rides on their loan files – it rides on their back – for decades," Johnson, who writes his thesis at Mercer University on student debt

"The time has come to end and stop the madness," he added.

Johnson proposes to forgive student debt of $ 50,000 for all borrowers, about $ 925 billion, according to a newspaper report. For people who have already paid off their debt, he offers to offer them a $ 50,000 tax credit. The plan will be paid with a 1% corporate income tax.

At the same time, Johnson announced that he would run for Georgia's open Senate seat.

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"Wayne Johnson has an inside look at how student loans hurt borrowers and he can't deny the evidence: the US student loan program is a large-scale unsuccessful experiment that hurts borrowers and our economy," says Julie Margetta Morgan, a contributor from the Roosevelt Institute.

Johnson joins a choir of government officials and presidential candidates calling for the cancellation of student debt.

Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., Has proposed a $ 640 billion debt cancellation. Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., Said he would delete all $ 1.6 trillion from him. During a recent campaign event, Sen. Kamala Harris, D-California, hinted that he would be introducing a debt forgiveness plan on student loans to families earning less than $ 100,000 a year.

"Johnson's plan is more expensive than Warren's, but cheaper than Sanders," says Mark Kantrovitz, an expert in higher education.

And yet, Johnson stands out from the rest in a more critical way. "This is the first Republican support for a widespread student loan forgiveness," Kantrovitz said. "That makes it a two-sided issue."


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