The Law and Political Economy of a Student Debt Jubilee

131 Pages Posted: 28 Aug 2019 Last revised: 3 Jun 2020

See all articles by Luke Herrine

Luke Herrine

Yale University, Law School, Students

Date Written: June 2, 2020


The notion of a student debt jubilee has begun its march from the margin of policy debates to the center. This article discusses why such a jubilee would be desirable and how it might be implemented. After reviewing the history of student debt, the arguments for cancellation, and the two bills that have been introduced in Congress over the past year by leading candidates for the Democratic presidential nomination, the last section of the article presents the possibility that a substantial amount of public student debt cancellation could be undertaken without further legislation. The Department of Education has already been given the authority “compromise, waive, or release” its claims against students, and nothing under current law clearly limits that authority.

Keywords: student debt, administrative law, education, legal history, public goods

Suggested Citation

Herrine, Luke, The Law and Political Economy of a Student Debt Jubilee (June 2, 2020). Buffalo Law Review Forthcoming, Available at SSRN: or

Luke Herrine (Contact Author)

Yale University, Law School, Students ( email )

127 Wall Street
New Haven, CT 06511
United States

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