Gabrielle Chenault | Lifestyle Section Editor
“President-elect Biden can enact this plan his first day in office, debt relief needs to be made a priority.” In a roundtable interview with several student journalists from around the nation, including Hampton University, Senator Elizabeth Warren spoke about her student loan debt relief initiative.
Although student debt has been an existing national issue, the COVID-19 pandemic has accentuated this.
“This plan will help to close the wealth gap between African-Americans and White Americans by 25 points,” said Warren. According to the Brookings Institution, the current difference between the current white and Black average wealth gap is 6.7 points or $791,700. The Massachusetts senator’s plan calls for fairness when it comes to economic wealth and the potential for economic growth.
Another amazing aspect of this plan is the strong impact it could have for African-American women. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, in 2019, African-American women were the most educated group in America and the most likely to seek a postsecondary degree. This plan calls for the removal of $50,000 in student loans which will drastically change the lives of millions of Americans. This is very relevant specifically if you view Hampton University’s makeup. The university comprises 34% male and 66% women. Since women are seeking more collegiate degrees, they obtain more loans which accumulates more debt.
Vice President-elect Harris, Howard University alumnus, has spoken at length in support of this bill and also supports providing free education for low-income students. She stated that if the student’s family makes under $125,000, they should be able to get a free education at any HBCU.
The recent success of reform within the New York State College system speaks to the efficacy of nationwide reform. In 2017, Governor Andrew Cuomo signed the Excelsior Scholarship which states that students whose families make under $125,000 will receive a free education at two and four-year schools. Democratic Senate minority leader Chuck Schumer has proudly spoken to the success of this bill and endorses the notion that more states need to follow suit.
Senator Schumer has partnered with Senator Warren on the debt relief plan and together they have spoken to various economic teams and local leaders to ensure this program will be effective. “The best way we can get this plan passed is by educating others. The more people that know about this plan and support, the better chance we have at it succeeding,” said Warren.
As the Zoom meeting came to a close, Senator Warren reiterated why this plan needs to be passed and the impact it would have on Americans: “This plan isn’t just for current students. It’s for graduates who have thousands in debt, students who are scared to attend due to financial issues and even those who dropped out due to the cost. The difference it could make in people’s lives would be transformative and as a society, we need to make this a priority.”