University in South Carolina is forgiving student loans for more than 2,500 students who have dropped out of school due to financial hardship.
South Carolina State University, the state’s only historically black college or university (HBCU), announced last week that the school is automatically clearing loan accounts for students who did not enroll in the classes or who dropped out altogether because they could no longer afford college.
The school said it was writing off a total of $ 9.8 million in loans using money from the Cares Act and US bailout stimulus packages designed to help America recover from the impact of the coronavirus pandemic.
“We are committed to providing these students with a clear path for them to continue their college education and graduate without the burden of financial debt caused by circumstances beyond their control,” said Alexander Conyers, Acting President from the university, in a press release.
Conyers added: “No student should have to sit [at] at home because they cannot afford to pay their delinquent debts after suffering the financial devastation caused by a global pandemic. “
Known as the site of the Orangebourg Massacre, in which three students were killed by police after protesting segregation in 1968, South Carolina State University is the second HBCU to announce debt cancellation. Wilberforce University, a private Ohio HBCU, said in June that it To cancel $ 375,000 in student loans owed by students in the school’s most recent graduating classes.
While the federal government has put a temporary freeze – which expires Oct. 1 – on student loan repayments, the pandemic has offered little respite from the growing student debt crisis. More than 42 million Americans have student loans with a combined value of $ 1.6 billion. More than a third of Americans who went to college got into debt to pay for their studies.
The country’s persistent racial wealth gap, which results in the average black American household having about 10 times less wealth than the average white American household, can be seen in the racial disparities among Americans in debt. Compared to white Americans, more black Americans are behind on their student loans and less have paid off their loans overall.
The issue has caught the attention of prominent lawmakers and activists who have called on the Biden administration to cancel student debt.
“You cannot be anti-racist if you are against canceling student debt,” Ayanna Pressley, Democratic Congresswoman from Massachusetts, tweeted in April.
After Biden pledged to close the racial wealth gap in remarks commemorating the 100th anniversary of the Tulsa race massacre, NAACP Chairman Derrick Johnson criticized Biden’s lack of a plan to combat student debt that “disproportionately affects African Americans”.
“You can’t start closing the racial wealth gap without addressing the student loan debt crisis,” Johnson told the Washington post.
The administration said the Education Department was working on a memo stating whether it would be legal for Biden to write off student debt through executive action, although he is not clear when the memo is posted.