Students who attend historically Black colleges and universities borrow nearly twice the amount of student loan debt as their peers at non-HBCUs. Black borrowers also earn less than their white peers, default at a higher rate, and take much longer to pay back the debt — which hobbles their efforts to invest, purchase a home, save for retirement, and so on.
On the campaign trail, President Joe Biden promised* to address this racial wealth gap by forgiving all federal student loan debt for HBCU students who earn less than $125 thousand annually.
Two years into office, Biden has yet to make good on his word.
That failure may have more to do with politics than it does with desire. The president simply may not have the political capital to forgive billions of dollars in federal loans with a pen stroke. But he has used his authority — at least during the pandemic — to implement piecemeal fixes that have transformed several existing forgiveness programs and have led to the Education Department wiping out $25 billion in debt for hundreds of thousands of borrowers.
Schools like Wilberforce University and Clark Atlanta University have used stimulus funds from the American Rescue Plan to wipe out millions of institutional student debt for thousands of Black students. Plus, private donors, like the Debt Collective and billionaire Robert F. Smith have pledged funds that have cleared the balances of thousands of recent HBCU graduates.
So while HBCU student loan forgiveness isn’t a thing, there are debt forgiveness opportunities that former students of HBCUs can benefit from to alleviate the financial burden they carry for years after leaving school.
Learn More: How to Apply for Student Loan Forgiveness
*Biden promised to do the same for all federal student loan borrowers earning less than $125 thousand and who attended two- and four-year public colleges and other minority-serving institutions.