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Wisdom Cole - Cancel Student Debt - NAACP
Press Statement February 23, 2024

NAACP Calls for Hardship Consideration in Final Student Debt Negotiated Rulemaking Session

Wisdom Cole - Cancel Student Debt - NAACP


February 23, 2024

Contact: Alicia Mercedes,

WASHINGTON –  This Friday, the U.S. Department of Education concluded the fourth and final round of negotiated rulemaking sessions to develop a set of recommendations for comprehensive student debt relief. The session, which came as a result of targeted efforts led by the NAACP and other advocates,was convened to devise a path toward cancellation for borrowers facing hardship. Wisdom Cole, National Director of the NAACP Youth & College Division, served as the primary negotiator representing civil rights organizations, advocating for Black Americans whose disproportionate experiences with hardship have a significant impact on their ability to repay their student loans.  

Director Cole shared the following statement, reflecting on the session's conclusion:  

"The NAACP is proud to have stood with fellow advocates and elected leaders to make this fourth Negotiated Rulemaking session a reality. Taking meaningful steps to define hardship is paramount to providing racially equitable student debt relief. We appreciate the Department of Education taking time to consider this crucial element of the forgiveness program. Now, it's up to the Administration to make relief a reality for those whose tireless work has brought us here. I look forward to seeing the positive impact that implementation will have on our community, our economy, and the future of higher education. This is what advocacy in action looks like." 

Throughout the negotiation process, the NAACP mobilized Black student loan borrowers from across the country to share their stories during public comment. In the most recent session, NAACP President and CEO, Derrick Johnson, provided public comment, placing emphasis on the importance of addressing the student loan crisis through a racial equity lens.

Since its relaunch, the NAACP, in partnership with Civic Nation, has led efforts to make SAVE more accessible to Black borrowers, hosting information sessions and conducting community-based outreach. To date, the SAVE program has approved nearly 140 billion dollars in student debt relief for nearly 4 million borrowers. Despite this, the path toward cancelation for young Black borrowers hangs in the balance, an issue that the NAACP has continued to press the Administration on. 



The NAACP advocates, agitates, and litigates for the civil rights due to Black America. Our legacy is built on the foundation of grassroots activism by the biggest civil rights pioneers of the 20th century and is sustained by 21st century activists. From classrooms and courtrooms to city halls and Congress, our network of members across the country works to secure the social and political power that will end race-based discrimination. That work is rooted in racial equity, civic engagement, and supportive policies and institutions for all marginalized people. We are committed to a world without racism where Black people enjoy equitable opportunities in thriving communities.

NOTE: The Legal Defense Fund – also referred to as the NAACP-LDF - was founded in 1940 as a part of the NAACP, but now operates as a completely separate entity.