Education

Black Lives Matter Creates Student Debt Fund As Federal Relief Stalls

Black Lives Matter hopes a $500,000 fund will offer some assured relief to current or former students waiting for loan forgiveness.

Black Lives Matter Creates Student Debt Fund As Federal Relief Stalls
Ted S. Warren / AP
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As a long-promised student debt forgiveness plan sputters in court, the Black Lives Matter Global Network Foundation — the official philanthropic arm of the activist group — is taking debt forgiveness into its own hands.

The group announced a $500,000 tranche of cash set aside for student debt relief, with plans to make 500 payments to Black students, graduates and dropouts struggling to pay off loans and education-related costs.

"It's very stressful trying to think about it and plan, figure out how I'm going to do those payments," said Ameenah White, who applied for federal student debt relief.

The move could help uplift some of the Black college graduates who owe an average of $25,000 more in student loan payments than their White peers, according to the Education Data Initiative.

"We have different professionals all around us," said Blessing Lungu, who applied for federal student debt relief. "We have teachers, nurses — you need their help, so why can't you help them?"

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The Biden administration announced late last month that student loan repayments will stay paused while federal courts battle the legitimacy of the White House plan to forgive some debt. At the latest, payments will resume in late August next year.

That means all borrowers need to reorient themselves with the details of their student debt.

"Your loans might not even be where they were in March of 2020," said Betsy Mayotte, president of the Institute of Student Loan Advisors. "So, log onto studentaid.gov and make sure you know who your loan holder is, and then make sure they know how to reach you."

It's a daunting reintroduction that BLM hopes it can soften for hundreds of Black borrowers.

"Even if we don't go into repayment until next summer ... it is coming," Mayotte said.