Panel discusses student debt crisis at HBCUs
Although the Biden administration has provided more than $ 9.5 billion in student loan relief since taking office earlier this year, that still isn’t enough to make a significant difference given that $ 1.7 trillion US dollars are in debt. The burden of student loans is also heavier on black borrowers and students attending historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs).
“Not only do they have less wealth to borrow to repay their loans because of the racial wealth gap, but the underfunding of HBCUs exacerbates the financial problems that result in higher debt for students attending these schools.” said Representative Alma Adams, who participated in a panel hosted by the Center for Responsible Lending (CRL) on Thursday.
Adams, founder and co-chair of the Bipartisan HBCU Caucus and former HBCU professor, said she supports blanket cancellation of student loans up to $ 50,000 and called for an increase in HBCU funding as the country exits. the growing pandemic.
Derrick Johnson, president of the NAACP, said most African Americans work in the public sector and pay less than private companies. He called for debt cancellation, especially for borrowers working in the civil service during the pandemic. To honor their services, he said the education ministry should create easier access to the civil service loan forgiveness program for workers.
He added that there is a link between closing the racial wealth gap and solving the student debt crisis.
“We were taught very early on that if you go to college you do well, you can have a good life, only to find ourselves in a cycle of debt that many will not be able to get out of,” Johnson said.
Nearly half of black graduates owe more on their undergraduate student loans four years after graduation than they did when they graduated.
“A lot of us will never pay it back,” said Ashley Harrington, senior policy advisor at CRL.
Harrington pointed out that the only solution to this problem is to write off student debt, readjust interest, and create debt-free universities.
She said the pause in student loan payments and stimulus checks issued during the pandemic have helped black borrowers get through economic hardships.
“We actually had this extra money that we could do things,” she said. “It wasn’t a lot, but that’s the difference between having no stock and having some,” Harrington said.
Panelists also called for more funding to HBCUs through the Reconciliation Bill, as these institutions have been neglected in the past. They said Congress should do more.
“It really is a moral question. What kind of society do we want to live in? What kind of a world do we want to create? “Asked Johnson. That allows them to fully participate in this thing we call America?”