Biden Forgives Student Debts, Extends Pause on Repayments

Is this a win for Black folks?

Two college students in their graduation gowns.

Did you hear the news? President Biden has made good on one of his campaign promises: student loan debt forgiveness, but does everyone win?

Photo courtesy of the Executive Office of the President of the United States.

Who Wins with the Student Debt Plan?

The breakdown goes like this:

  • up to $10,000 for people with federal student loan debt will be canceled
  • an additional $10,000 will be canceled for Pell Grant recipients

Here’s the catch: You must earn less than $125,000 annually or $250,000 for married couples who file joint taxes and the federal student loan repayment will remain on pause until Dec. 31, 2022.

Who Loses with the Student Loan Forgiveness?

While some are celebrating, others feel that the new bill doesn’t go far enough. NAACP President & CEO Derrick Johnson posted on Twitter: “@POTUS’s decision on student debt cannot become the latest example of a policy that has left Black people, especially Black women, behind. This is not how you treat Black voters who turned out in record numbers and provided 90% of their vote to once again save democracy in 2020.”

According to The Journal of Blacks in Higher Education, Black people take out Pell Grants at disproportionate rates and then add loan debt on top of that. This sinks Blacks deeper into debt with direct negative impacts on their quality of life and ability to purchase a home or car. It makes it nearly impossible to create a cushion for the next generation. “On average, Black borrowers owe $52,000 in student loan debt. Black students are more than twice as likely to report graduate school debt than their white counterparts,” writes Anoa Changa for Newsone. Black women are hit hardest, as they are underpaid and have high education debt.


There was a promise of debt relief for students and families of historically Black univerisities and colleges who earn less than $125,000. While some relief has come, it’s not nearly enough to level the playing field.

What Can You Do?

It’s not too late to send a message to the president to forgive more than $10,000, says The Student Debt Crisis Center. Even if you don’t have student loans, chances are you know someone who does. Send a letter on their behalf, so that everyone wins.

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