How much do we value our country’s future?

It was entirely possible in the 1980s to pay your way through a typical public university with a part-time minimum-wage job. But trends in both tuition and wages have put that strategy out of reach for most today. The average in-state cost for tuition, fees, room and board at a public four-year university last year was $21,370, according to the College Board. The federal minimum wage is $7.25 an hour. To pay for college on that wage, a student would have to work 56 hours a week, every week of the year. No wonder about 2 in 3 graduates of public and private nonprofit colleges borrow, a proportion that’s held steady for a decade.

Minimal script: I’m calling from [zip code] and I want Rep. [___] to co-sponsor Rep: H.Res.100, which calls on President Joe Biden to eliminate up to $50,000 in student loan debt per borrower.

I also want [him/her] to support H.R. 2498 – the Private Loan Disability Discharge Act, which requires private student loan lenders to discharge loan balances for both the student loan borrower and any co-signer if the borrower becomes totally and permanently disabled, matching the federal Total and Permanent Disability(TPD) discharge program.

More script if you want it: Governments fund what they value, and if America values remaining competitive in this 21st century, we should be joining countries like Norway, Sweden and others who prioritize making higher education accessible to all their citizens. Instead, $1.8 trillion in student debt has hobbled not just students, expecially Black and low-income ones, but the growth of our entire economy.

Contact:

  • H.Res.100 cosponsors here. Neither Brownley, nor Carbajal are cosigners.
  • H.R.2498 cosponsor here. Currently no cosponsors. Loan industry lobbyists must be very powerful…
  • Rep. Julia Brownley (CA-26): email, DC (202) 225-5811, Oxnard (805) 379-1779, T.O. (805) 379-1779
  • or Rep. Salud Carbajal (CA-24): email. DC (202) 225-3601, SB (805) 730-1710 SLO (805) 546-8348
  • Who is my representative/senator?: https://whoismyrepresentative.com

More information

(Nation of Change) On January 31, 2022, some 45 million American borrowers—disproportionately Black and low-income—will be dealt yet another devastating financial blow. The student loan forbearance is set to expire, and those elected to represent and advocate the needs of our communities have made a conscious decision to ignore the far-reaching impacts of the student debt crisis and refuse to endorse broad-based elimination.

From slavery’s institutionalized theft to widespread pay inequities, Black and low-income communities have long faced structural and systemic barriers to college access and affordability. An estimated 74% of Black students leave school with Title IV federal student loan debt, compared to 55% of white students. And upon graduation, Black students owe $7,400 more than their white counterparts—an amount that skyrockets to $53,000 after a four-year period. With a student debt load that far exceeds our income, let alone our ability to repay, Black borrowers default at almost six times the rate of white borrowers and carry a median debt-to-income ratio (82.42%) that renders our community ineligible for qualified mortgages or competitive auto loans. As our communities remain the hardest hit by the COVID-19 pandemic and the slowest to recover, it’s clear that absent government intervention, Black and low-income borrowers will continue to endure perpetual cycles of debt and default. 

Reducing the debt load is not enough: While recent higher education proposals have been aimed at reducing the debt load for recent college graduates, these measures extend little relief to existing borrowers and fall incredibly short of remediating the now $1.8 trillion student debt crisis and its disparate impact on Black and low-income communities. More than 84% of households with Black college graduates in their 30s, have student loan debt; and while the net worth of Black millennial households has fallen to $8,300 over the past three decades, that of white households has skyrocketed to $138,000.

Making success accessible: Sixty-five percent of all U.S. jobs require education beyond high school—and that percentage is projected to increase within the next five years. This means that Black and low-income students are being forced to make a difficult trade-off between entering the labor force with fewer employment opportunities, or accumulating massive amounts of debt to further their education in hopes of broadening their career. Higher education is a valuable investment, but far too often student loan debt stands as a barrier to accessibility and financial security.

Broad student debt elimination is a race-forward, equitable, and progressive solution to the student debt crisis. Aside from eliminating the economic angst of 45 million borrowers, it would have astronomical effects for Black communities—who would receive the largest proportional reduction in their debt-to-income ratios across all income distributions. This would significantly improve Black homeownership rates, expand the Black middle class, and thus reduce the Black-white wealth gap. 

Show solidarity with Black and low-income borrowers. Demand that your representative co-sponsor H.Res.100—the U.S. House resolution that calls on President Joe Biden to eliminate up to $50,000 in student loan debt per borrower. The federal government owns 92% of student debt and has the power and authority to liberate our communities from lifelong debt. The countdown begins.#EliminateStudentDebt

Where federal student loans are now…

References: 

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