On the 2020 campaign trail, now President Joe Biden won over the hearts and votes of many by promising to forgive up to $10,000 in student loan debt per person.
Now, as he gets closer to making a decision on just how much forgiveness he’s willing to give, the Congressional Black Caucus is dialing up the pressure on the President to show Black borrowers some grace.
According to CNBC, a decision on loan forgiveness could come from the White House any day now. And in a statement released on May 20, CBC Chairwoman, Rep. Joyce Beatty (D-OH) urged President Biden to meet with members of her caucus to tackle the issue that is contributing to the racial wealth gap in the United States.
“The $1.7 trillion student loan debt crisis is a racial and economic justice issue disproportionately impacting Black communities across the nation. We are calling on the Biden Administration to implement broad-based student loan debt cancellation by executive action.”
“Canceling student loan debt is one of the most impactful ways to address ongoing economic and racial inequities plaguing our nation. As representatives of more than 17 million Black Americans and 80 million Americans, the urgency of this moment requires we move with intention. In order to reduce the racial wealth gap and advance a just and equitable economic recovery for all, we must alleviate the burden of student debt. Nothing is off the table, except inaction.”
Members of Congress, including Senators Chuck Schumer (D-NY), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Raphael Warnock (D-GA) and Rep. Ayanna Pressley, have made student loan debt cancellation a priority. They are calling on the Biden administration to cancel up to $50,000 of debt per borrower.
Research has shown that the issue of student loan debt impacts Black Americans more than any other racial group. In an oped for BET, NAACP President Derrick Johnson and Sen. Chuck Schumer cited that Black Americans are more likely to take out federal student loans, with almost half defaulting on those loans within 12 years. And while the average white borrower will owe just 6 percent of their debt 20 years after starting college, the average Black borrower will still owe 95 percent of their debt over the same period.
Sen. Warren’s office released data showing that just $10,000 in student loan forgiveness would wipe out balances for 2 million Black borrowers, reducing the share of Blacks with student debt from 24 percent to 17 percent. Offering $50,000 in forgiveness would go even further, reducing the share of Blacks with debt to 6 percent.
But the cries are just as loud on the other side of the issue from those whose arguments include that debt forgiveness is unfair to future borrowers and that it would be a bailout for “corrupt university administrators.”