Chief Strategy and Transformation Officer for Federal Student Aid at the U.S. Department of Education A. Wayne Johnson (81B) resigned last Thursday to pursue one of Georgia’s two contested seats in the U.S. Senate, where he aims to advocate for the cancellation of a majority of the nation’s student loan debt. 

Johnson, who earned an MBA in 1981 at Emory, called the current student loan debt system “fundamentally broken” and hopes to see it rectified.

Johnson, the former deputy to Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, has outlined a debt forgiveness program which would relieve much of the nation’s outstanding student loans and provide tax credits for those who have already paid off their loans.

Following his resignation, Johnson hopes to take his proposal to the U.S. Senate. In an interview with the Atlanta Journal-Constitution (AJC), Johnson said he plans on applying to fill Sen. Johnny Isakson’s (R-Ga.) seat, who is retiring before the end of his term. Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp is currently seeking applications for an interim senator to carry out the rest of Isakson’s term.

If not appointed, Johnson will campaign for the seat during the November 2020 special election, with student loans as his main campaign focus.

Although there are about 500 other applicants hoping to replace Isakson, Johnson said he is “optimistic” in his chances of gaining the appointment.

“The fact that I resigned my position at the U.S. Department of Education in order to pursue this appointment and this objective should convey how serious I am about this,” he told the AJC.

Johnson is one of the few Republicans calling for large cancellation of student debt. DeVos, a Trump-appointed Republican, has spoken out against Democrats’ student loan forgiveness proposals with concerns about funding this trillion-dollar venture. In an Oct. 18 appearance on Fox News, DeVos called the proposals “crazy.”

“It’s going to be two of the three Americans that aren’t going to college paying for the one out of three that do,” DeVos said.

Johnson’s plan seeks to secure funds for student debt forgiveness through a 1 percent  corporate tax. The plan will provide $50,000 to students to help reduce their loan debt and up to $50,000 in tax credit for students who have already paid off their loans.