As President Joe Biden is set to make a major announcement about reducing the amount of student loan debt for those struggling, the NAACP has firmly and publicly stated that it’s not enough to help Black borrowers.
According to reports, President Biden is poised to announce a new plan to forgive up to $10,000 of student loan debt for those borrowers who earn below a certain level of income and to extend the current pause on repayments until January 2023. Some outlets have pointed to the White House making an official announcement on Wednesday (August 24th). The move would immediately impact 45 million Americans or one-third of all current borrowers. The news of this proposal, which sources say is still being finalized, was met with swift disapproval by NAACP President Derrick Johnson via Twitter. “This is not how you treat Black voters who turned out in record numbers and provided 90% of their vote to once again save democracy in 2020,” he wrote.
The NAACP also voiced how displeased they were with the potential move, writing: “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.”
During his campaign to become President in 2020, Biden proposed forgiving this amount, saying: “I’m going to make sure that everybody in this generation gets $10,000 knocked off of their student debt as we try to get out of this godawful pandemic.” However, many advocates and progressive groups as well as Democratic lawmakers such as Senator Raphael Warnock (D-GA)and Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-NY) have petitioned the administration to forgive $50,000 of student loan debt – a number Biden apparently nixed during meetings on the subject in April. The federal government currently holds $1.6 trillion worth of student loan debt as the nation’s biggest lender.
“The president will have more to say on this before Aug. 31,” said White House spokesman Abdullah Hasan on Tuesday afternoon. Hasan also noted that the administration had “already canceled about $32 billion in debt for more than 1.6 million Americans,” referencing previous debt forgiveness efforts enacted since Biden took office, with HBCUs taking advantage. But many Black borrowers still struggle with debt, with $52,000 as the average amount that they owe. An estimate by the Wharton School of Business says that the potential move would cost the government $300 billion this year, a number seen by some as minor compared to the current budget for military defense, estimated at $8.7 trillion over the next decade.