President Biden is weighing a plan to cancel $10,000 in student loan debt per borrower, which would bring relief to tens of millions of financially struggling people, The Washington Post reports. Under the proposal, borrowers are eligible if they earned less than $150,000 as an individual or less than $300,000 as a married couple last year.
But as The Hill reports, the president is under pressure to increase the proposed debt cancellation amount for Black borrowers who are burdened with a disproportionately high amount of federal student debt because of systemic racism.
In fact, the Congressional Black Caucus has framed the student debt disparity as “a racial and economic justice issue,” urging the Biden administration to implement a “broad-based” approach to the $1.7 trillion student loan debt crisis.
“The impact that $10,000 would have would be so minor, that it wouldn’t really address the real issue for Black borrowers,” Wisdom Cole, national director of the NAACP Youth and College Division, told The Hill.
Black graduates borrow at a higher rate than other groups, with more than 80 percent of Black bachelor’s degree recipients owing an average of $34,000, The Hill cites data from The Institute for College Access and Success. It’s more debt than white, Latino and Asian grads owe after graduating. Unsurprisingly, Blacks also default at a higher rate.
Black women are particularly impacted, according to the nonprofit group Education Trust. The gender pay gap makes women more at risk of default than men.
“Because Black women exist at the intersection of two marginalized identities and experience sexism and racism at the same time, they make less money and often need to borrow more to cover the cost of attendance, and struggle significantly with repayment,” Education Trust said in an April 2022 report.
“This is a crisis created through policy decisions, and we have a responsibility to address it head-on. Canceling student loan debt is one of the most impactful ways to address ongoing economic and racial inequities plaguing our nation,” CBC Chairwoman Joyce Beatty said in a statement.
“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.”