Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) unveiled a comprehensive higher education plan on Monday that will help fund historically Black College and Universities (HBCUs), as well as eliminate student loan debt and create free public college.
Warren’s education plan would cancel 95 percent of some student loan debt for the nearly 45 million Americans with debt and eliminate student loan debt for 75 percent of people. Her plan also states that the program will “substantially increase Black and Latinx wealth, and help close the racial wealth gap.” Warren also called for $50 billion in funding for HBCUs.
“For decades, Black Americans were kept out of higher education by virtue of overtly discriminatory policies. Even as the Civil Rights Movement rolled back racially discriminatory admissions policies, the stratification of our higher education system kept students of color concentrated in under-resourced institutions and left them vulnerable to predatory actors,” Warren wrote in her report. “Black and Latinx students are underrepresented in four-year public colleges and overrepresented in community colleges and for-profit colleges.”
The senator wrote that 95 percent of Black students who are attending a for-profit college took out student loans, and that 75 percent of Black students “who did not complete their program at a for-profit college defaulted.” She added that many for-profit institutions “have built a business model around sucking down taxpayer dollars while delivering a poor education primarily to students of color.”
The plan will cancel up to $50,000 in debt for any indebted person in a household income that is making less than $100,000. Borrowers who have a household income between $100,000 and $250,000 would also be able to have a smaller portion of their student loan debt forgiven, according to Warren’s plan.
“We got into this crisis because state governments and the federal government decided that instead of treating higher education like our public school system — free and accessible to all Americans — they’d rather cut taxes for billionaires and giant corporations and offload the cost of higher education onto students and their families. The student debt crisis is the direct result of this failed experiment,” Warren said.
Warren’s plan would also include additional funding for states “that demonstrate substantial improvement in enrollment and graduation rates for lower-income students and students of color,” place a ban on for-profit colleges, instruct public colleges to complete an annual audit that identifies “issues creating shortfalls in enrollment and graduation rates for lower-income students and students of color” and propose ways to improve rates, and stop public colleges from considering an applicants criminal history or citizenship status during the admissions process.
“It’s time to end that experiment, to clean up the mess it’s caused, and to do better — better for people who want to go (or go back) to college, better for current students, better for graduates, better for their families, and better for our entire economy,” wrote Warren.
Student loan debt is disproportionately high for Black Americans. In a study published in the journal Sociology of Race and Ethnicity titled “Racial Disparities in Student Debt and the Reproduction of the Fragile Black Middle Class,” researchers found that Black young adults acquire 85 percent more education debt than white borrowers.
About the Author
Maria Perez is a breaking news writer for The North Star. She has an M.A. in Urban Reporting from the CUNY Graduate School of Journalism. She has been published in the various venues, including Newsweek, Juvenile Justice Information Exchange, City Limits, and local newspapers like The Wave and The Home Reporter.