The Debt Collective wiped out $1.7 million in student debt for Bennett College students.
The relief was for debt owed to the historically Black college, like unpaid tuition and other school-related expenses.
Student debt disproportionately falls on Black borrowers, and Biden campaigned on HBCU relief.
Women who attended Bennett College no longer have overdue bills having over their heads.
On Saturday, the Debt Collective — a union of debtors working to abolish all forms of debt — announced it would be eliminating $1.7 million in institutional student debt for 462 accounts dating back as far as 1996. The group wiped out all remaining unpaid tuition and other school-related expenses owed to the college itself, ensuring those students will be able to access their transcripts and have the material they need should they want to pursue further education.
Debt owed to individual colleges is often easier to cancel than federal student loans, which the government owns. "We can't cancel federal loans," Braxton Brewington, press secretary of the Debt Collective, told Insider. "We would if we could. The bills for most of these students was tuition they couldn't afford but thought they were going to be able to afford it, but something fell through — they fell on hard times."
Brewington emphasized the collaboration with Bennett College, a women's Historically Black College or University (HBCU), to carry out this relief. The college sold all of its unpaid debt to the Rolling Jubilee Fund, the Debt Collective's sister organization, for $50,000, and with that purchase, it eliminated the students' debt.
This elimination of debt builds on actions other HBCUs have taken throughout the pandemic to relieve their students of financial burdens. Using stimulus funds from President Joe Biden's American Rescue Plan, South Carolina State University was able to wipe out $10 million in institutional student debt for 2,500 students, with Delaware State University and nearly a dozen others having done the same.
As Insider previously reported, federal student debt disproportionately falls on Black borrowers. US Census data revealed in August that even if they didn't finish college, the average Black student-loan borrower carries the same debt burden as white adults with an advanced degree, and according to a survey by The Education Trust, 66% of Black borrowers regret taking on debt because of the difficulty they have paying it back.
Biden pledged during his campaign to cancel all tuition-related undergraduate federal student debt for borrowers from public colleges and universities earning up to $125,000 per year, and from private HBCUs and minority-serving institutions. And in terms of federal student-loan forgiveness, the president said he will make a decision on it in the coming weeks.
President of the NAACP Derrick Johnson said in a statement that "student debt is a plague, it is a virus that shackles Black Americans."
"It has devastated families and roadblocked opportunities for countless Black Americans," Johnson said. "President Biden alone can do the right thing for the Black community. To help free Black borrowers, President Biden must cancel $50,000 in student debt."
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