Comedian Hasan Minhaj testified before a congressional committee Tuesday about student loans, telling lawmakers that crushing debt is “sidelining millions of Americans.”

The host of the Netflix comedy “Patriot Act with Hasan Minhaj” spoke at a hearing hosted by the House Financial Services Committee. His show recently devoted an episode to the student debt crisis.


The committee met Tuesday to discuss the CFPB Student Loan Integrity and Transparency Act, the title of which references the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, and the Transforming Student Debt to Home Equity Act.

Minhaj began his testimony by loosening up the room: He thanked Committee Chairwoman Maxine WatersMaxine Moore WatersCDC director says he wasn't involved in decision to reroute COVID-19 hospitalization data Overnight Defense: Pompeo pressed on move to pull troops from Germany | Panel abruptly scraps confirmation hearing | Trump meets family of slain soldier Senate panel scraps confirmation hearing for controversial Pentagon nominee at last minute MORE (D-Calif.) for inviting him and then thanked ranking member Rep. Patrick McHenryPatrick Timothy McHenryCheney battle raises questions about House GOP's future Hillicon Valley: Democrats request counterintelligence briefing | New pressure for election funding | Republicans urge retaliation against Chinese hackers House Republicans urge Trump to take action against Chinese hackers targeting coronavirus research MORE (R-N.C.) for “quietly tolerating it.”

Minhaj then spoke about several factors that he said are perpetuating the debt crisis. Chief among them, he said, is the fact that college tuition rates have outpaced earnings among workers.

“We’ve put up a paywall to the middle class,” he said.

“That’s why we put our entire show for free on Youtube. Because we care about the viewers,” he said. “Also, because you can’t find anything on Netflix.”

Student debt affects more than 42 million Americans, averaging almost $30,000 per borrower, according to government figures. The Federal Reserve Bank of New York estimates that overall student debt is almost $1.5 trillion, making student loans the highest source of consumer borrowing after mortgages.

“This issue is sidelining millions of Americans,” Minhaj said. “Marriage, kids, homeownership and retirement are all being put on hold because of the crisis.”

A recent AARP report found that student debt owed by people over the age of 50 has increased from $47 billion in 2003 to $289.5 billion in 2018.