The Congressional Black Caucus is calling on President Joe Biden to use his executive powers to enact “large-scale student loan debt forgiveness,” saying it would help close the racial wealth gap.
In a statement On Friday, the group of black lawmakers described the $1.7 trillion student debt crisis as “a racial and economic justice issue disproportionately impacting black communities.”
“Cancelling student debt is one of the most effective ways to address the persistent economic and racial inequalities that plague our country,” CBC wrote.
“Nothing is on the table except inaction,” said the lawmakers, who also requested to meet with Biden to discuss the issue.
The CBC did not include a specific amount of student debt it recommended for cancellation.
Earlier this year, dozens of Democratic lawmakers, led by Massachusetts Democratic Rep. Ayanna Pressley and Senator Elizabeth Warren, urged the president to set aside $50,000 student debt per borrower.
Biden before indicated that it is “unlikely” to eliminate so much debt per person, but has expressed his support for the cancellation of $10,000 of debt per person.
The administration said the president would decide whether to forgive any amount of student debt before payments resume in August. (Federal student loan payments were suspended amid the COVID-19 pandemic, and Biden has extended that pause several times.)
Widespread loan forgiveness would significantly narrow the racial wealth gap, as black undergraduates are more likely than any other racial group to have to borrow money to pay for college, and black students get graduate with the most student loan debt of any group.
A 2020 Federal Reserve report looked at US borrowers under 40 who have student loan debt and found that 26% of black borrowers and 19% of Latinx borrowers had fallen behind on their loan repayments, against only 7% of white borrowers.