A student delegation from N.C. Central University and N.C. A&T University traveled to Washington, DC, last week to push for debt-free college, full cancelation of student debt and funding for HBCUs.
On Friday, member of the delegation, organized by NoCap, a statewide racial and social justice organization based at the campuses of historically Black colleges and universities, were scheduled speak alongside U.S. senators and representatives at a rally.
The N.C. delegation also was scheduled to meet with other students and advocates to push their efforts nationwide.
Why it matters: According to researchers from educationdata.org, 42.9 million Americans owe a total of $1.73 trillion in student loan debt, with an average of $36,510 in federal loans.
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The website also reports that:
- On average, Black college graduates owe $24,000 more in student loan debt than do their White counterparts.
- Four years after graduation, 48% of Black students owe, on average, of 12.5% more than they borrowed.
- Black student borrowers are the most likely to struggle financially because of student loan debt, with 29% making monthly payments of $350 or more.
On Capitol Hill, U.S. Rep. Alma Adams has been a leading advocate for eliminating student loan debt, a move President Joe Biden has not fully supported. A proposal that would have reduced or eliminated student load debt was stripped from a Covid-19 relief bill last year as the two major parties negotiated the legislation. Still, a number of HBCUs earlier this year used a portion of their Covid relief funds to cancel some education-related debts held by their students.
Israfil Brandon, a NoCap organizing fellow at NC A&T, said students are “tired of piecemeal solutions.” He called the issue one of racial justice.
“In my community, we already face economic challenges,” he said in a statement. “College is often the main access point for many basic necessities, including housing and food. As an HBCU student it’s my duty to be out here.”
NoCap organizers who traveled to D.C. took with them specific demands, including:
- That Biden take immediate executive action to cancel all outstanding student loan debt.
- That Congress pass debt-free college legislation and increase funding for students from HBCUs and other minority-serving Institutions
In preparing for their Washington trip, the students worked with Generation Progress, NAACP Youth & College and other national organizations.
Earlier last week, the students spoke with Sen. Richard Burr of North Carolina to press their case.