SPEARFISH S.D. (KOTA TV) - Like most college students, Payton Adams maintains a job while going to a four year university.
She works, to pay off her student loan debt. But Senator Elizabeth Warren wants the federal government to write off billions of dollars in existing student loan debt, allowing students to focus on other things post graduation.
"Marketing myself or I could worry about getting more equipment that would help me in the future with my jobs or I could maybe move somewhere else to get a better opportunity. It would be great honestly," says Payton Adams a sophomore at Black Hills State University.
In South Dakota the average student faces $31,275 in student loans. Warren's proposal would eliminate almost all student loan debt for 42 million Americans, canceling $50,000 in debt for each person with a household income under $100,000.
"Education is one of the most important things and it seems colleges and universities are becoming more of an elite privilege that people can go to if you can afford it," says Hannah Neumiller the student body president at Black Hills State University.
The projected total price tag: $1.25 trillion over 10 years. Warren says it would be paid for by a new tax on multimillionaires and at least partially offset by new economic growth.
"If we ask the great fortunes in this country, understand, this isn't about trying to be nasty or say you've done anything wrong, what its about is saying, look, you had a great idea. You got out there. You worked hard or you inherited well. Whichever one it was. But now that you've got that great fortune, spend just a minute to remember how you got it," says Sen. Elizabeth Warren.
"Using the extra resources and moneys that we have in our country would be incredible to promote education for everyone," says Neumiller.
Many in the growing field of Democratic candidates have proposed reforming the nation's student loan programs, including dramatic restructuring of existing refinancing structures, but Warren appears to be the first to propose flat-out debt cancellation.