'Squad' Member With $250k in Student Debt Wants To Cancel All Loans

Jamaal Bowman accrued debt earning bachelor's, master's, and doctoral degrees

August 18, 2023

Rep. Jamaal Bowman (D., N.Y.) has repeatedly called for the total cancellation of student debt. The "Squad" member would stand to make a quarter-of-a-million-dollar windfall if that happened.

Bowman earlier this year urged the cancellation of "all" student debt, claiming that student borrowers have been "preyed upon" by the education system. Last year, he called on President Joe Biden to wipe out $1.75 trillion in existing student loans and asserted that college education "should be free."

The liberal Democrat's advocacy raises conflict of interest concerns given his own hefty student loan tab, which Bowman accrued after receiving bachelor's, master's, and doctoral degrees.

Bowman owes $250,000 in federal student loans—$220,000 for his own degrees and $30,000 in loans for his children, according to his annual financial disclosure. Bowman received undergraduate, master's, and doctoral degrees from the University of New Haven, Mercy College, and Manhattanville College, respectively.

The "Squad" member has cited his student debt to argue in favor of cancellation, stating that he is "one of the very few Black PhD holders in America."

"I had to take out thousands in student loans to get there," Bowman tweeted last year. "[Biden] can cancel student loan debt and make sure that furthering ones' [sic] education is affordable for everyone so that no one has to go into massive debt."

Bowman's call for wholesale cancellation of student loans goes far beyond Biden's proposal, which the Supreme Court struck down in a landmark ruling in June. Biden had issued an executive order that canceled up to $20,000 in federal loans for individuals making less than $125,000 a year.

Biden's plan, which the Supreme Court deemed illegal, would likely not have provided relief to Bowman. He earns $174,000 a year as a member of Congress, and his wife earns $94,000 from her job in the New York City Department of Education, according to his financial disclosure.

Bowman is not the only "Squad" member with student debt who supports complete cancellation. Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D., N.Y.) and Ilhan Omar (D., Minn.), who each owe between $15,000 and $50,000 in student loans, have called for wiping out all student debt.

Bowman's office did not respond to a request for comment.