UNCF Supports White House Student Debt Plan

Media Contact

Monique LeNoir UNCF Communications 202.810.0231 monique.lenoir@uncf.org

With nearly 70% of all HBCU students being Pell Grant eligible, President Biden is putting emphasis on those who need relief

 Today, President Biden announced a landmark decision which positively and overwhelmingly impacts most graduates of historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs). UNCF supports the President’s debt cancellation plan, including the following provisions:

  1. Supporting how college and post-high school education is the ticket to the middle class of America.
  2. Providing $20,000 of debt cancellation to Pell Grant recipients—and $10,000 to non-Pell Grant recipients—who earn less than $125,000 per year, or $250,000 as a household income.
  3. Extending the federal student loan pause through December 31, 2022.
  4. Making the student loan system more manageable.

“What we find is President Biden and Vice President Harris bolstering their case for being the best administration ever for HBCUs and their students,” said Dr. Michael L. Lomax, president and CEO, UNCF.  “In addition to the American Rescue Plan and annual increases in his budget for HBCUs, this plan brings equity into view by placing more emphasis on those in society who need the debt cancellation the most—the Pell Grant recipients.  UNCF fully commends the administration, and we hope that there is more work we can do together on behalf of HBCUs and underserved students no matter what institution they attend.”

“The Biden-Harris White House is applying the balm to the misery,” said Lodriguez V. Murray, senior vice president of public policy and government affairs, UNCF.  “I was a Pell Grant recipient when I attended Morehouse College. I know the struggles of hustling to gather the resources and how real debt accumulation is to a first-generation college and/or high school graduate.

“For me, and for UNCF, this is not just policy in a vacuum, this is real,” Murray continued. “There are those who say a rising tide floats all boats, but especially after the summer of racial reckoning that began in summer 2020, we know more emphasis must be applied to those who are most in need. The administration is using their executive power to provide a level of equity that is nothing short of praiseworthy.”

More UNCF insights on Black student borrowers:

  • Due to the high percentage of Pell Grant eligible students, with some UNCF institutions having as much as 90% enrolled, UNCF institutions awarded an average of $7,045,890 in federal student loans per institution.
  • Students who receive UNCF scholarships and attend a UNCF member institution during the 2021 – 2022 academic year have an average remaining unmet need of $18,037, which makes them dependent on federal loans to persist and complete their degree. (Meaning, more than one year of debt would be cancelled for a qualifying student according to the Biden-Harris plan.)
  • The typical Black borrower still owes 95% of the original cumulative balance after 20 years in repayment.
  • During the 2019-20 academic year, the average amount of federal loans awarded to HBCU students is the amount of $7,148.
  • Four years after graduation, 48% of Black students owe an average of 12.5% more than they borrowed.

Click here for more on our insights on Black student borrowers and the weight of debt, as well as the dual impact of HBCU alumni social mobility factors.