Presumptive Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden has confirmed that he has a plan to cancel student loan debt to help stimulate the economy – and to help reduce racial disparities for Black Americans. This plan was first released by Biden and his team in April 2020, but Biden reaffirmed his commitment to the plan in a June appearance on Comedy Centrals’ The Daily Show With Trevor Noah. Let’s explore the details of this plan now, and discuss how it may affect students and those burdened by student loan debt in America.
What’s In Joe Biden’s Student Loan Debt Proposal? Exploring The Basics
First, let’s start by discussing the details of Biden’s plan for student loan debt reparations and relief. The primary elements of his proposal include:
- A proposal to discharge all undergraduate federal student loan debt for borrowers who attend public universities and colleges, as well as HBCUs (Historically Black Colleges and Universities) and private MSIs (Minority-Serving Institutions).
- Student loan forgiveness eligibility for all borrowers with an income of less than $125,000 per year
- Debt-free community college and free college at public colleges/universities for families making less than $125,000 per year
- A crackdown on predatory “for-profit” colleges, which often prey on people of color, and allowing those who are defrauded to discharge their loan debt
Biden also previously supported a $10,000 federal student loan forgiveness program as part of the CARES Act coronavirus relief bill, but this was rejected in the final version of the CARES Act. He has also expressed support for a bill proposed by Elizabeth Warren, which would make it easier to discharge student loan debt in bankruptcy.
How Will This Plan Affect Students Of Color? The Benefits Of The Proposal
Black Americans, Hispanic Americans, and other students of color are underrepresented in American colleges and universities – primarily due to the soaring cost of a college education. The price of college has increased 8x faster than wages, and this disproportionately impacts students of color, who are less likely to be able to afford post-secondary schooling. In addition, student loans most heavily affect students of color, who must borrow more for schooling and living expenses compared to their white peers. Nearly 87% of Black students borrow federal student loans, compared to about 60% of white students.
Black and Hispanic students also graduate with higher levels of debt compared to white students, both from public and private colleges. For this reason, student loan forgiveness and reduced tuition costs are thought to be one of the best ways to reduce racial inequality in America – and under Biden’s plan, Black, Hispanic, Native American, and other students of color are likely to get quite a bit of financial relief.
Biden’s Plan Has Its Benefits, But Will He Win Over Voters?
Biden’s proposal certainly sounds promising for reducing racial inequality and the burden of student debt. So it remains to be seen what the effects of this proposal may be, but things certainly sound promising for students of color, now that Biden has won the presidency.