Historically Black University Cancels $730K+ In Student Debt With COVID-19 Relief Funds
“While we know our efforts won’t help with all of their obligations, we all felt it was essential to do our part,” a University official said.
Delaware State University is canceling more than $730,000 worth of debt for recent graduates who experienced financial difficulties during the coronavirus pandemic, officials recently announced.
More than 220 students from the historically Black public university will receive an average of $3,276 each to assist with outstanding student debt. The university used money from the American Rescue Plan, a massive relief package that Democrats passed earlier this spring, to help graduates with debt.
“Too many graduates across the country will leave their schools burdened by debt, making it difficult for them to rent an apartment, cover moving costs, or otherwise prepare for their new careers or graduate school,” Antonio Boyle, the vice president for strategic enrollment management at Delaware State University said in a statement. “While we know our efforts won’t help with all of their obligations, we all felt it was essential to do our part.”
Tony Allen, the president of Delaware State University, said the school has not increased tuition in more than six years and provides incoming students an iPad or MacBook.
“Our students don’t just come here for a quality college experience,” Allen said in a statement. “Most are trying to change the economic trajectory of their lives for themselves, their families, and their communities. Our responsibility is to do everything we can to put them on the path.”
According to a 2016 report by the Brookings Institute, the disparity in student debt between Black and white college graduates has “grown dramatically in recent decades.” Black graduates owed $25,000 more in student debt than white graduates, according to a 2020 report citing federal education data.
Since before President Biden took office, Democrats have been pushing him to address the student debt crisis in the U.S., which proponents of eliminating debt say is as much of a race issue as it is an economic issue.
As early as last September, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) proposed that the next president relieve up to $50,000 in debt for borrowers through executive action. That means Biden could feasibly provide relief without Senate support. Sens. Schumer and Warren also acknowledged that relieving student debt can “substantially increase Black and Latinx household wealth and help close the racial wealth gap,” citing research from the Roosevelt Institute.
But the president has repeatedly proposed forgiving $10,000 in federal loan debt per borrower, which critics have said is not enough to make a substantial long-term impact on debtors’ financial lives or reduce economic inequality, especially along racial lines.
In April, the Biden administration ordered the Department of Education to prepare a memo looking into the president’s authority to cancel up to $50,000 per borrower in student loan debt. That memo has not yet been made public.