Nearly 3,000 Students At Morehouse College Suddenly Get Their Student Debt Canceled

The HBCU partnered with Debt Collective to erase almost $10 Million in school debt – no strings.

Almost 3,000 students at Morehouse College had their student debts canceled.

According to a news release, the HBCU partnered with Debt Collective, the first union of debtors to cancel pending debt in the nation, to wipe clean collections for the Fall 2022 term and prior for 2,777 students.

Morehouse transferred the collections to the Rolling Jubilee Fund, a sister organization of  Debt Collective’s sister organization,  for $125,000 — or a little more than one penny on the dollar. The total debt Morehouse held in collections for that time was calculated at $9,707,827.67. The “no strings attached” gift was used for ”unpaid parking tickets, library fines, and even unpaid tuition totaling up to $30,000.” Because of the debt being cleared, students now can access their transcripts, receive their diplomas, and continue their education at the graduate level.

“Our nation is defaulting on the promise of education when we burden communities, especially Black HBCU graduates, with crushing amounts of student debt,” said Braxton Brewington, a spokesperson for the Debt Collective. “This nearly $10M of student debt cancellation will put thousands of Black folks in a better position to be able to save for retirement, purchase a home, or start a small business. President Biden has yet to make good on his campaign promise to eliminate all student debt held by HBCU graduates. We’re doing our part, and it’s time Biden does his. Forty-five million Americans need this relief.”

"We are an organization that grew out of Occupy Wall Street that sort of mimics the labor movement," Brewington continued. "Just like workers stand together to organize for better wages or better working conditions, we believe debtors can do the same."

Dr. Andrew J. Douglas, a political science professor at Morehouse, shared how he worked with the Debt Collective to launch the initiative.

“The student debt crisis—I think we're all aware of how significant it is," Douglas said. "How disproportionately it harms Black student borrowers.

"After Robert Smith paid off the debt of the entire graduating class in 2019, that led me to think that Morehouse needed to develop some curriculum around debt and democracy," Douglas continued..."I think the fact that we're talking about debt with the face value of almost $10 million, I think just speaks to, you know, how significant the debt crisis at all levels has become.”

Morehouse Commencement Speaker Robert Smith Makes An Incredible Promise To Every Member Of The Graduating Class

Morehouse Commencement Speaker Robert Smith Makes An Incredible Promise To Every Member Of The Graduating Class

Jarel Billups, a former student who owed $15,000 to Morehouse, said he couldn’t believe it when he received the call about the gift.

"I actually was getting ready to hang up the phone because, you know, we get a lot of these arduous spam calls. And so, when I got the call, I was like, 'Yeah, you have a great day.' And then, it was like, 'No, no, just hold on just a moment' and then kind of explained it," Billups said

With his educational debt erased, Billups plans to purchase his first home.

"I, now, have the additional funds to be able to afford a home," Billups said.

The Debt Collective has been working tirelessly to address school loan debt that has become almost an insurmountable burden for millions of borrowers.

Last year, the organization wiped out nearly $2 million of debt accrued by around 500 students at Bennett College, in Greensboro, North Carolina.

In August, the Debt Collective launched its Student Debt Release Tool, an innovative, online petition that allows borrowers “to file an application directly with the Department of Education to demand the full cancellation of their federal student loans under the compromise, settle and release” authority within the Higher Education Act.

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