President Joe Biden‘s Thursday address to the nation from one of the most prominent HBCUs in the country was expected to detail his plan to fight the current inflation issues the country is facing.
The scene at North Carolina A&T State University in Greensboro will paint an interesting picture since Black students in higher education are some of the most heavily impacted individuals by the inflation crisis.
A huge reason for that is because of the higher likelihood for Black students to be saddled with student loan debt. According to the Education Data initiative, Black and African American college graduates owe an average of $25,000 more in student loan debt than white college graduates.
And with everything becoming more expensive, it’ll be even harder for graduates to find the money to pay off these loans monthly. Since the pandemic began, the Trump Administration and Biden Administration have continued to extend the pause on student loan payments and new reports indicate that Biden is considering student debt forgiveness for borrowers.
“The President is going to look at what we should do on student debt before the pause expires, or he’ll extend the pause,” said White House Chief of Staff Ronald Klain in an interview posted by Pod Save America in early March. “Whether or not there is some executive action [on] student debt forgiveness when the payments resume is a decision we’re going to take before the payments resume.”
Biden and his administration have received intense criticism from younger supporters in regards to his efforts to alleviate this burden on many Americans.
In the wake of the pandemic, many HBCUs have even stepped up to the plate to lessen the financial responsibility on their students. Some institutions have even waived fees and outstanding balances for students tied to the school that could prohibit them from graduating.
Hampton University announced last week that there will be no increase in tuition, fees and room and board for the 2022-2023 academic year. In addition, all outstanding student account balances for the Spring 2022 semester will be wiped clean.
“In keeping with the University’s efforts to help our students, there will be no increase in tuition, fees, room and board for the 2022-2023 academic year,” said President of Hampton University Dr. William Harvey in a statement from the school. “In addition, on behalf of the University, I am pleased to announce that all outstanding balances for the Spring 2022 semester will be erased. We hope that this action will continue to assist our students and their families at our Home by the Sea.”
A few schools were likely able to do this because of the influx of funding from the COVID Relief plans enacted by the Biden Administration. HBCUs have received $2.7 billion in funding from Biden’s American Rescue Plan in the last year.
While Biden has been intentional in attempting to fund HBCUs — which play a huge role in helping Black people achieve financial freedom — canceling student debt would undeniably create an even bigger impact economically for Black people, especially in the midst of inflation rates this high.
Whether the president’s speech at North Carolina A&T will move the conversation forward about canceling student loan debt remains to be seen. But Biden’s potential commitment to forgiving this debt could play a significant role in diminishing racial and financial burdens for millions of Black people in this country.