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Biden Links Loan Forgiveness to Racial Equity

July 31, 2020

Joe Biden, the presumptive Democratic nominee for president, linked the forgiving of student debt on Thursday to dealing with racial inequities in the country.

At the virtual convention of the American Federation of Teachers, Biden was asked by Marguerite Ruff, a Philadelphia classroom assistant for special needs children, what he planned to do to reduce disparities. Biden reiterated his campaign pledge to eliminate large portions of student debt. The union endorsed Biden on Wednesday.

“We still have Black college graduates five times more likely than white graduates to have to default on their student loans because of their financial circumstances,” Biden said.

Biden has proposed forgiving the student loans of those making $25,000 or less. Those with higher incomes would pay 5 percent of their discretionary income, after essentials like housing and food, toward their loans.

For those earning up to $125,000 with undergraduate tuition-related federal student debt from two- and four-year public colleges and universities, he would also have the federal government make their monthly payments until the debt is paid off.

During the pandemic, he would also forgive $10,000 of debt for all borrowers.

“There are simple things we can do”  to address racial disparities, he said, noting that taking steps such as forgiving debt would benefit the economy. “It’s not like we turn on the faucet and spend government money. It will increase the income in the pockets of people making a decent wage growing the economy.”

Biden pointed to his previous proposals to simplify the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program, which offers $10,000 of undergraduate or graduate student debt relief for every year of service work in schools, government and nonprofit organizations. He would add adjunct professors to the program. He also said he would make colleges and universities free for families who earn $125,000 annually or less.

President Donald Trump's campaign didn't immediately return a request for comment.

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Kery Murakami

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