Elizabeth Warren tells grads with loads of debt: Agitate!

Tuition-free college comes with strings
Tuition-free college comes with strings

Senator Elizabeth Warren has a message to new graduates dealing with student debt: Stand up for yourself with the politicians.

During a commencement speech at the University of Massachusetts Friday, Warren told students that decisions made by state and federal lawmakers "heavily influenced" the amount of student loans they'll have to pay.

"As a practical matter, how much you owe and who has access [to education], is set, in part, by a handful of people who, in a democracy, are supposed to answer directly to you," Warren said.

So, she implored students to get involved.

"I am not here to make a pitch just to Democrats or to Republicans .... Libertarians, vegetarians, Big Mac-atarians," Warren said. "Your elected officials are increasingly working only for a few -- the very wealthy few -- and if that doesn't change soon, then this country will fundamentally change."

Related: My student debt is delaying my retirement

Warren, a Democrat, has long been pushing for student loan reform. Last month, she cosponsored a bill with Senator Bernie Sanders that would make tuition free for all instate students at community colleges. The measure would also cut interest rates in half on some federal student loans.

The idea behind the bill, which isn't expected to go far, is to lessen the burden on recent graduates, who are facing the largest debt loads in history.

Related: This school doesn't make students pay -- until they score a job

The average undergraduate student borrower faced up to $30,100 in loans in 2015, according to an October 2016 report from The Institute of College Access and Success. That's the highest average ever recorded.

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