On Tuesday, July 23, the HBCU Collective partnered with Sen. Elizabeth Warren and Rep. Jim Clyburn to introduce the Student Loan Debt Reduction Act. Getting the legislation introduced was a gargantuan effort, involving months of lobbying, phone calls, emails, and meetings. But this is only the beginning. Te bill still has to be passed.
Student loan debt was once seen as “good debt,” the springboard for creation of job opportunities throughout the economy. But the interest that builds on student debt more often than not leaves people owing far more than the annual salary they will likely be paid in any given career. Dealing with old student loans has become so overwhelming for so many families that it has risen to the level of such hotbed issues as criminal justice reform or climate change.
“It’s cutting off opportunity in such a profound way that it’s pretty hard to ignore,” said Julia Barnard, a researcher at the Center for Responsible Lending, a consumer advocacy group.
A new study called “Quicksand: Borrowers of Color & the Student Debt Crisis” issued by the Center for Responsible Lending and the NAACP suggests that the sheer amount of student loan debt– some $1.6 trillion– poses a “significant risk to the country’s economic well-being.”
According to the Center, nearly 69% of persons awarded a bachelor’s degree in 2016 had student loan debt averaging $29,669. For blacks, a much higher percentage– nearly 85%– left school with debt. The average debt for that group: $33,993.
People interested in seeing this legislation pass and become law should contact their members of Congress and encourage them to pass the bill. Click here to find your representatives, both House and Senate.