Some rejoiced when President Joe Biden announced that he was extending the pause on making student loan payments for three additional months while others urged Biden to go further and cancel student loan debt altogether.
Among the latter group are NAACP president Derrick Johnson and renowned wealth inequality expert and economist William “Sandy” Darity.
Biden released a statement on Wednesday, Dec. 22 about his decision, citing the large number of borrowers who “are still coping with the impacts of the pandemic and need some more time before resuming payments.”
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“Given these considerations, today my Administration is extending the pause on federal student loan repayments for an additional 90 days — through May 1, 2022 — as we manage the ongoing pandemic and further strengthen our economic recovery,” the statement said. “Meanwhile, the Department of Education will continue working with borrowers to ensure they have the support they need to transition smoothly back into repayment and advance economic stability for their own households and for our nation.”
“If you can afford to pause student loan payments over and over again, you can afford to cancel it,” Johnson tweeted after Biden’s announcement.
The day before Biden’s announcement, Darity tweeted that he favors student debt cancellation. However, the Duke University professor cautioned that it would not close the racial wealth gap as some have claimed.
“In a spirit of conciliation let me say at the outset I favor student debt cancellation. What disturbs me are extravagant claims like the assertion it will raise black wealth by 40%. Let’s run the numbers,” Darity wrote on Tuesday, Dec. 21.
Darity went on to explain his logic based on the numbers. “Average black student loan debt among those holding debt is about $24K,” Darity continued in the thread. “But black enrollment rates are 37%; adjusting for that per capita black student loan debt is about $9500. Per capita average black wealth is about $47K. $9500 is closer to 20% than 40%.
“Since student debt cancellation is universal, it will have virtually no effect on the racial wealth GAP,” Darity continued.
Student loan payments – which were supposed to resume on Feb. 1, 2022 – will now be paused through May 1. The decision comes after Biden was pressured by members of his own party to enact student debt relief – including Georgia Sen. Raphael Warnock.
“We need to address student debt in general, but in the meantime, an extension would be a step in the right direction,” Warnock said, according to a Politico report.
Twitter users were divided over Johnson’s comments.
“Nah…I’m a Democrat and I’m AGAINST it,” user @Africanfighter tweeted. “I worked full time while in nursing school, and paid off my student loans 2 years after graduating by making sacrifices (working overtime, spending money in a responsible manner). Why not educating borrowers to do the same?”
“So because you had to pay it off, everyone should have to do the same even if there is a better way? Yikes! You don’t want people to have a better option? Very selfish mind set,” @GirlMelanie_11 replied.
“They want the college experience and end up with a bunch of debt they can’t afford to pay back? Went should the President be responsible for the decisions they made?” @J_BDahn wrote.
“So why does that mean people should be bankrupted to go to college? If anything I figured your experiences would make you want to pressure the government of the richest country on earth to actually help it’s students. But I guess since you two suffered everyone should,” @BurntMattys replied.
PHOTO: Bergen Community College graduates line for commencement at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J., May 17, 2018. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig, File)