As part of a bold legislative package that would make public colleges and universities tuition-free, Sen. Bernie Sanders on Monday unveiled a plan to wipe out the $1.6 trillion in student loan debt that is saddling an estimated 45 million Americans.

“In a generation hard hit by the Wall Street crash of 2008, it forgives all student debt and ends the absurdity of sentencing an entire generation to a lifetime of debt for the ‘crime’ of getting a college education.”
—Sen. Bernie Sanders

“This is truly a revolutionary proposal,” Sanders told the Washington Post, which reported the details of the Vermont senator’s bill late Sunday. “In a generation hard hit by the Wall Street crash of 2008, it forgives all student debt and ends the absurdity of sentencing an entire generation to a lifetime of debt for the ‘crime’ of getting a college education.”

Sanders, a 2020 Democratic presidential candidate, released his proposal alongside Reps. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) and Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.), who introduced the Student Debt Cancellation Act and the College for All Act in the House.

“I am one of the 45 million people with student debt—45 million people who are held back from pursuing their dreams because of the student debt crisis,” Omar tweeted Sunday. “It’s why I’m proud to stand with Sen. Sanders and Rep. Jayapal to pass college for all and cancel student debt.”

The three lawmakers introduced their proposals in a press conference Monday morning outside the U.S. Capitol building. Watch:

Jayapal, Omar, and Sanders also held a Q&A session on their legislation following Monday’s press conference:

Vox‘s Tara Golshan called Sanders’s legislative package the “most ambitious higher education plan in the Democratic 2020 presidential primary so far.”

Unlike means-tested plans introduced by other 2020 contenders, Golshan observed, Sanders’s legislation would cancel student debt for everyone “regardless of their income or assets.”

Keane Bhatt, a spokesperson for Sanders, told Vox, “We believe definitionally that if you are the upper elite, that you by definition would not have had to take out student loans.”

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