This week, the Washington, DC city council unanimously approved a resolution calling on President Biden to cancel student debt.
DC is just the latest city to ask the federal government to forgive the student loan debt of millions of borrowers. Philadelphia, Boston and Cambridge also enacted similar resolutions earlier this year.
“The student debt crisis hits communities of color, women and low-income families hardest,” Washington, DC Councilwoman Janeese Lewis George said in a statement. “That is true both in the District and throughout the United States. We call on the federal government to act in accordance with its authority to cancel student debt. “
Advocates of broad student loan forgiveness have framed the cancellation of student debt as a racial justice issue. Black students are much more likely to finance their college degrees with student loan debt than white students. According to the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), 77.7% of black students obtain federal student loans to pay for college, which is higher than the national average for all students (60%) and for white students (57.5%). Black students are also more like attend for-profit schools, which are often accused of deceptive and predatory conduct.
Earlier this week, some advocates criticized President Biden for not mentioning the cancellation of student debt in his speech on racial justice in Tulsa, Oklahoma, where he highlighted the massacre of black residents and the burning of black businesses there by a white mob. 100 years ago. “Until we address the student loan debt crisis, which disproportionately impacts African Americans, we can never address the issue of home ownership and therefore wealth accumulation,” said the NAACP President. , Derrick Johnson, in an interview with Political.
Washington, DC and other municipalities have joined a diverse range of advocacy organizations, civil rights groups, labor unions, state attorneys general, and Democratic lawmakers in Congress who have called on President Biden to cancel student loan debt through action. executive.
Biden has expressed some support for broad student loan forgiveness, but has been reluctant to use executive action to implement it, even as Congress shows no indication that it will pass a student loan forgiveness bill. Biden has also argued that canceling student loan debt would unfairly benefit wealthy students who attended expensive Ivy League schools, although data shows that only a small fraction of one percent of student loan borrowers attended such institutions. .
Progressives in Congress and several leading legal experts on student loans they have discussed that the Higher Education Act, the statute that governs much of the federal student loan and financial aid system, gives the president broad authority to unilaterally cancel student loans. But the legal staff of the Department of Education working under former Secretary Betsy DeVos had concluded that federal law doesn’t give the president the kind of power that borrower advocates say exists.
On April 1, Biden directed the legal staff of the US Department of Education and the Department of Justice to conduct a formal legal review of the possible authorities that could be the basis for canceling student debt through executive action. . That legal review appears to be ongoing.
Biden Administration Announces Major Overhaul of Income-Based Payment and Student Loan Forgiveness Programs
Will Biden pay off student loan debt? We may know soon
Biden Student Loan Forgiveness Review: Should You Take Action Now To Pay Off Student Debt Later?
If Biden doesn’t pay off student loan debt, could he do it instead?