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Activists pay off nearly $10 million in debt for former Morehouse students to help them get a fresh start

The former students of Morehouse College, a historically Black liberal arts school for men, felt relieved when Debt Collective erased their debt.

Activists pay off nearly $10 million in debt for former Morehouse students to help them get a fresh start
Cover Image Source: YouTube | 11Alive

Student debt is one of the biggest predicaments haunting America as a country. As per Statista, 45.5 million Americans owe more than 1.7 trillion U.S. dollars in outstanding student loan debt. One of the biggest reasons behind this huge debt is the skyrocketing cost of college education. The crisis has been predicted to become the next 'housing bubble' of the country, which invited the Great Recession. Unfortunately, the problem at hand has disproportionately impacted people of color. The Black community was given a huge relief from this burden when Debt Collective, a union of debtors in the nation, stepped up to erase nearly $10 million of their debt, as per USA Today.

Representative Image Source: Pexels | RDNE Stock project
Representative Image Source: Pexels | RDNE Stock project

2,777 former college students who had attended Morehouse College, a historically Black men's liberal arts college in Atlanta, had their outstanding college debt wiped off on Monday. The students owed the institution $9,707,827.67 through the Fall 2022 term. Some of these students have been paying this loan for decades. The whole thing came into place due to collaboration between Debt Collective and the college. They brought in Rolling Jubilee Fund, an organization set up only for social welfare, to buy the debt out.


The waivered debt was the amount students owed to the institution, not the federal student loan. It was the loan they took to attend, to pay tuition, or even parking fees directly from the institution. These debts have proven to be a headache for students, stopping them from pursuing future goals. Certain institutions do not give students their records because of the amount they owe to them. "The financial burden prevents them from being able to move on with their lives," said Braxton Brewington, press secretary with the Debt Collective. Without transcripts, students can't advance their education. "It just sort of follows them."

Black students have long been the biggest victims of this crisis. These students are the least likely to have generational wealth and more familial responsibilities. The research conducted by United Negro College Fund showcases that students who attend historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs) borrow student loans at higher rates and consequently, graduate with substantially higher debt than their peers at non-HBCUs. This is because these students do not have anything to fall back on and are purely dependent on the funds they get as the loan for their education. The lack of security also makes it hard for them to repay the loan, as they have to give it out of compensation while looking after their families. In fact, many people whose debts were brought out by the Royal Jubilee Fund had to drop out to take care of their families.

Representative Image Source: Pexels | Pavel Danilyuk
Representative Image Source: Pexels | Pavel Danilyuk

“Debt has proven itself to be one of the strongest deterrents in a prospective student’s decision to attend college and inhibitors in alumni’s socioeconomic success post-graduation,” David A. Thomas, president of Morehouse College, said in a statement, “It is why our Morehouse’s $500 million capital campaign aims to position the college as a need-blind institution by 2030. Partners like the Debt Collective and Rolling Jubilee are making the investment to help level the financial playing field for our students and alumni and we are all tremendously grateful for their vote of confidence through such a generous gift and financial relief.”

In a conversation with 11Alive, Brewington described the act as a "no-string-attached gift." Last summer, former and present students were dealt a huge blow when Biden's plan of mass forgiveness was rejected by the Supreme Court. The plan would have waivered up to $20,000 in federal student loans for low and middle-income borrowers. Since then, his administration has been invested in bringing out new policies to help people with this burden and make it easy for them to pay back to the authorities.


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