UNCF is “Disappointed” in Supreme Court Decision on Student Debt

Media Contact

Roy Betts UNCF Communications 240.703.3384 roy.betts@uncf.org

WASHINGTON, DC (June 30, 2023)—UNCF (United Negro College Fund) strongly disagrees with today’s Supreme Court decision on President Biden’s student debt relief plan. This is a major disappointment for college students, attendees and graduates, especially those coming from lower economic backgrounds.

“When President Biden put this plan forward, we had so much hope and excitement that there would be a leveling of the playing field in our country,” said UNCF President and CEO Dr. Michael L. Lomax. “If something positive can be found in this decision, it is that President Biden’s leadership has caused the onerous nature of student loans to be a central discussion point in our country. Policy and decision makers should build on the president’s plan and enact legislation that provides debt relief for students and graduates, especially for those who need it the most.”

“The worst kept secret in Washington was that President Biden, at that time, was contemplating a relief program of $10,000 for qualifying individuals,” said Lodriguez V. Murray, senior vice president for public policy and government affairs at UNCF. “UNCF was proud to introduce the concept of doubling the relief to $20,000 for students and college attendees who were Pell-eligible. Nearly three out of every four HBCU (historically Black college and university) students are eligible for the Pell Grant. While we wish that the high court sided with us, we must turn our attention to convincing Congress to double the purchasing power of the Pell Grant so that current students in need, but with aptitude, can always have access to our higher education system.”

With much input and support from UNCF, in August 2022, the Biden-Harris White House produced a one-time student loan relief plan, which would have provided for $10,000 in relief from student loans for those earning less than $100,000 and $20,000 in relief for students and graduates who were Pell Grant-eligible. Being awarded the Pell Grant is a federal government recognition that an individual comes from a lower socio-economic background and needs financial assistance to access higher education.

The effort to relieve student debt is important to UNCF, HBCUs and African American students for the following reasons:

  • On average, nearly 70% of the student population at HBCUs are Pell Grant-eligible
  • African American students often take out larger loans to cover the cost of their higher education
  • The average majority household wealth is estimated to be at $187,300 compared to the average Black household wealth estimate at $14,100 (according to the U.S. Census)
  • African Americans have a harder time borrowing capital, compared to majority populations; and when African Americans gain access to capital, it is often at higher repayment rates
  • UNCF, as the nation’s second largest private provider of scholarships, is also the largest private provider of scholarships to minorities in the country

Now that the Supreme Court has ruled against President Biden’s plan, UNCF calls upon Congress to act swiftly to fill the void that has been created, namely by doubling the Pell Grant to provide the relief that so many students need to improve the quality of their lives and be the economic drivers that support building the middle class.



About UNCF
UNCF (United Negro College Fund) is the nation’s largest and most effective minority education organization. To serve youth, the community and the nation, UNCF supports students’ education and development through scholarships and other programs, supports and strengthens its 37 member colleges and universities, and advocates for the importance of minority education and college readiness. While totaling only 3% of all colleges and universities, UNCF institutions and other historically Black colleges and universities are highly effective, awarding 15% of bachelor’s degrees, 5% of master’s degrees, 10% of doctoral degrees and 19% of all STEM degrees earned by Black students in higher education. UNCF administers more than 400 programs, including scholarship, internship and fellowship, mentoring, summer enrichment, and curriculum and faculty development programs. Today, UNCF supports more than 60,000 students at over 1,100 colleges and universities across the country. Its logo features the UNCF torch of leadership in education and its widely recognized trademark, A mind is a terrible thing to waste.”® Learn more at UNCF.org or for continuous updates and news, follow UNCF on Twitter at @UNCF.