Sen. Marco Rubio — who called student debt cancellation 'unfair' — said he had $100,000 in student loans but paid it off by writing a book

Republican Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida at a hearing on Capitol Hill on March 10, 2022.
Republican Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida at a hearing on Capitol Hill on March 10, 2022.Bill Clark/CQ-Roll Call via Getty Images
  • Sen. Marco Rubio said he was only able to pay off $100,000 in student debt because he wrote a book.

  • Rubio received an $800,000 advance to write his memoir, financial disclosures showed.

  • Rubio said Biden's student-loan forgiveness is "unfair," "illegal," and does not reform the system.

Republican Sen. Marco Rubio said Saturday he understands the issues with student loans in the US because he too had $100,000 in student debt before getting elected to Congress and writing a book that allowed him to pay it off.

The Florida senator appeared on Fox News' "One Nation with Brian Kilmeade" to discuss his concerns with President Joe Biden's plan to cancel up to $20,000 in student-loan debt for federal borrowers making under $125,000 a year.

Rubio said he agrees student loans need to be reformed and that he too was burdened for years with thousands of dollars of student debt.

"I owed over $100,000 in students loans," Rubio said. "The day I got elected to the Senate I had over $100,000 still in student loans that I was able to pay off because I wrote a book. And from that money I was able to pay it, if not I'd still be paying it."

Rubio graduated from the University of Florida in 1993 and got his law degree from the University of Miami Law School in 1996. He served in local and state offices, including as Speaker of the Florida House of Representatives, before getting elected to the Senate in 2010.

His book, "An American Son: A Memoir," was published in 2013. Financial disclosures showed Rubio received an $800,000 book advance from the publisher, Penguin Group, in 2012, the Tampa Bay Times reported. The disclosures also showed Rubio no longer reported having $100,000 in student debt.

 

Rubio's annual salary as a US senator has been $174,000 since taking office in 2011, with his income boosted significantly by book deals and royalties, as is common for US politicians.

He published a second book, "American Dreams: Restoring Economic Opportunity for Everyone," in 2015. It's unclear how large a book advance Rubio received for that book, but the Associated Press reported in 2016 that 2012 had been his most lucrative year, suggesting it was less than for his first book.

Rubio told Fox News that although he agrees the student loan situation is "broken" and "needs to be fixed," Biden's plan does not include long-term reform.

"I have bipartisan ideas that I've been pushing for years to do this. This plan doesn't reform the system," he said, adding: "There are people taking out loans right now that will owe them in the future that won't be covered by this, oftentimes for a degree that won't lead to a job."

Rubio also said he thought the student-loan forgiveness was "illegal" and that "the president doesn't have the authority to do this." He reiterated his belief that canceling the debt was "unfair," noting that 85% of Americans do not have debt from student loans, either because they paid them off or never took them out.

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