As student loan borrowers anxiously await news about their fate, there are some hustling hard ahead of the president’s announcement. According to the Associated Press, President Biden is expected to announce a plan to forgive up to $10,000 and extend the repayment pause until January 2023.
Forgiving up to $10,000 could immediately impact approximately one-third of all borrowers. But like many other areas disproportionately impacting the Black community, student loans is no exception. NAACP President Derrick Johnson chided the president for even considering such a meager amount given the consistent loyalty of Black voters.
Many Black borrowers owe more than $10,000. On average, Black borrowers owe $52,000 in student loan debt. Black students are more than twice as likely to report graduate school debt than their white counterparts.
The NAACP has been among the leading voices demanding meaningful action on student loans, keeping in line with the Biden-Harris. The organization’s official account also tweeted displeasure at the rumored resolution.
“Canceling $10,000 of student debt after ‘considering’ it for more than a year and a half is like waiting on hold for 6 hours only to get a 5% refund,” the legacy civil rights organization tweeted.
In a recent op-ed for NewsOne, Dream Defenders organizer Alicia Cox said canceling student loans would expand economic opportunity for many. Cox also shared what debt cancellation could mean for other organization members.
“Without student loan debt, thousands of us would have the opportunity to move out of our parent’s homes, afford childcare, buy a house, increase our credit score, start a family and feel less stressed about our finances and more sure of our futures,” wrote Cox. “Like many of my fellow organizers, I owe over $35,000 in student loan debt.”
As a candidate, Biden proposed forgiving federal student loans for students whose families earned less than $125,000, including many HBCU students. Before the official conclusion of the 2020 primary, Biden laid out his proposal in a medium post early in the pandemic. And while many HBCUs have taken advantage of funding made available during the COVID-19 pandemic to forgive student accounts, students and alum still need relief.
In a recent interview with Dean Obeidallah, Rep. Bonnie Watson Coleman, vice-chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus and co-chair of the Congressional Caucus on Black Women and Girls, said regardless of what the president decides, Congress will have to take action to “cover” all those who need to be covered.
Black women are often touted as the most educated group but also most profoundly impacted by federal student loan debt. Despite taking on more debt and being highly educated, Black women are still underpaid. More than half of Black student loan borrowers report their net worth as less than their outstanding student loan balances.
Student loan forgiveness advocates hustling hard to the very end
The Student Debt Crisis Center encourages borrowers and supporters to send urgent last-minute messages to the president to do more than $10,000. Many borrowers have been burned and burdened by various issues in the system and years of systemic mismanagement.
The federal government is the largest holder of student loan debt, with federal student loan debt totaling more than 1.6 trillion. This includes parents who have taken out Parent Plus loans in hopes that their children could have more opportunities in life.
Rising tuition costs, dwindling state investment and the unfulfilled promise of higher education drive students and families to take out loans. According to CNBC, approximately 40 percent of outstanding student loans are for post-undergraduate education.
The Department of Education announced changes in April 2022 to address some issues lingering in the system. Administrative failures and errors blocked some borrowers from benefiting from income-driven repayment programs. The Department also announced it would address “forbearance steering,” where loan servicers encouraged borrowers to choose forbearance without availing them of the possibility of income-driven repayment programs.
Congress can still take action to do more than $10,000. But it’s unlikely that the narrow Democratic control in the Senate will yield meaningful relief before the upcoming election.
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