The NAACP hosted a briefing with Senator Elizabeth Warren and Andre M. Perry, a Senior Fellow with the Brookings Metropolitan Policy Program, a scholar-in-residence at American University, and a columnist for the Hechinger Report. The briefing discussed the critical need to eliminate student loan debt for millions of Americans.
Derrick Johnson, president and CEO, NAACP:
"The issue around student loan debt is about wealth and the ability to grow wealth. The student debt crisis hits Black Americans substantially hard. We know that for the majority of us, we must take on more debt to get through college because we start on unequal footing."
Senator Elizabeth Warren:
"Fundamentally, student loan debt is a racial justice issue. Canceling $50,000 of student loan debt would close the Black-white wealth gap among borrowers by 25 points. President Biden can do this with the stroke of a pen. I'm grateful to be in this fight with the NAACP and other partners joining us tonight. We have the opportunity to make change for millions of borrowers."
Andre Perry, Senior Fellow, Brookings:
"Student debt certainly factors into the racial wealth divide. Student debt is a larger source of household indebtedness than cars or credit cards and is only surpassed by home mortgages. The more debt we cancel, the more we will be able to close the racial wealth gap."
This past Friday, August 6th, the Biden administration announced plans to extend the pause on federal student loan payments for borrowers until January 31st. The NAACP and other partner organizations successfully persuaded the Biden administration to issue a final extension on student loan repayments through increased advocacy in recent days.
The pause on federal student loan payments can only be extended for so long; it is time for the Biden administration to take the necessary steps to cancel student loan debt. The NAACP continues to fight forward on this issue by partnering with national membership-based organizations, training units to advocate for cancellation resolutions, recruiting surrogates, and collecting stories from all who have been affected by the pandemic of student loan debt.
Higher education is one of the surest paths to economic security. College degree holders earn over 65% more than people with only a high school diploma. But rising college costs have led to more (often larger) student loans. Currently, nearly 45 million Americans have student loans totaling a staggering $1.7 trillion. Not surprisingly, Black borrowers hold the most student loan debt across all racial groups. This single statistic has far-reaching consequences and has assumed heightened urgency amid the pandemic.
Black borrowers also experience disproportionately higher pay disparities. Among other consequences, high default rates are common, as are lower net worth, lower long-term saving, and fewer to no resources for investments — and that was before the pandemic.
Data suggest cancellation of student debt beyond $50,000 would benefit all demographics and boost the economy. This might well be the differentiator — affording borrowers with opportunities to pursue homeownership, increase upward mobility and finally advance equitable efforts to close the racial wealth gap.
The NAACP will:
- Advocate for $50K forgiveness for qualifying loan holders;
- Push for regulatory changes to reduce the timeline for loan forgiveness programs for federal employees and non-profit workers;
- Urge loan forgiveness for front line workers affected by COVID-19;
- Support longer forbearance periods and loan modification to provide extended relief; and
- Partner to increase pathways to educational opportunities through our N-SPIRE scholarship program.
For the most up-to-date information, visit the $50k & Beyond campaign page.
- Letter to President Joe Biden