Despite federal student loan payments resuming this month, graduates of Morehouse College are receiving some respite. Every cent owed in account balances for all Morehouse students before and up to the Fall 2022 term for money they owed to the university is being eradicated.
This is thanks to a historic partnership between the Debt Collective and Morehouse College.
The cancellation amounts to almost $10 million, which was being held in collections. With the blessing of the HBCU, the Debt Collective extinguished the full amount of $9,707,827.67 that was owed to the university.
This will impact almost 3,000 accounts, and these graduates also do not owe anything in return for this debt erasure.
In a press release, Debt Collective spokesperson Braxton Brewington said, “Our nation is defaulting on the promise of education when we burden communities, especially Black HBCU graduates, with crushing amounts of student debt.”
“This nearly $10M of student debt cancellation will put thousands of Black folks in a better position to be able to save for retirement, purchase a home or start a small business,” Brewington continued. “President Biden has yet to make good on his campaign promise to eliminate all student debt held by HBCU graduates. We’re doing our part, and it’s time Biden does his. Forty five million Americans need this relief.”
This isn’t the first time the union worked in conjunction with the its sister project, the Rolling Jubilee Fund, to pay off student loans for HBCU grads.
In the spring of 2022, the Debt Collective purchased “all past-due debt owed to Bennett College” and paid it off for students who had past-due tuition bills. This happened for “462 accounts worth a total of $1.7 million,” meaning that “462 people had their debts cancelled.”
As with Morehouse, the cleared debt did “not include federal student loans, only money owed directly to the school.”
Brewington said Bennett, the all-women liberal arts North Carolina HBCU, was chosen “because Black women on average have higher student loan balances than any other group of borrowers.”
The Debt Collective’s combined efforts with Bennett College and Morehouse prove just how simple it can be to quickly liberate students from a devastating mantle of debt.
“The fact that a small group of activists can eliminate $10 million dollars in a split second is a reminder of the amazing power the executive branch has to eliminate the crushing weight of student loans for the public writ large,” states the release.
According to their website, the Debt Collective is using the following three tactics for debt abolition: (1) “Pressuring the state to cancel debts and change policy through strategic organizing campaigns; (2) Providing our members with a suite of debt dispute tools that keep money in their pockets; and (3) Purchasing debts in order to erase them in collaboration with the Rolling Jubilee Fund.”
As a part of their organizational strategy, the debtor’s union launched the Student Debt Release tool this August. This innovative petition creates a personalized letter from anyone with federal student loans that gets sent to the U.S. Department of Education calling for full cancelation of federal student debt. To date, more than 30,000 people have successfully utilized this instrument.
The argument? There is legal authority to do so under the Higher Education Act’s “compromise, settle and release” language. This is the same method the White House is already leveraging “to begin a second attempt to meet [President Biden’s] campaign promise of erasing student debt,” per the release.