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NAACP lobbies for student loan relief

People walk on the campus of Stanford University in Stanford, California.
Jeff Chiu
People walk on the campus of Stanford University in Stanford, California.

The NAACP — including the organization's leader in Jacksonville — is advocating for President Joe Biden to take action on student loan relief.

National NAACP President and CEO Derrick Johnson has made national headlines recently as the group continues a push it has made for years.

“I don’t think anything is new as it relates to debt forgiveness for students," commented Isaiah Rumlin, president of the Jacksonville NAACP Chapter. "I think we even petitioned President Obama to deal with student debt,”

Biden told reporters Monday that he is nearing a decision on broad federal student loan forgiveness, a promise he made on the campaign trail. The action could include canceling $10,000 for all borrowers who earn less than $150,000 per year, according to multiple reports.

Data shows why the NAACP takes a strong interest. The Education Data Initiative, a group of researchers, reports that Black college graduates carry about $25,000 more in student loan debt than whites. Black borrowers also are more likely to struggle financially as a result of student loan debt.

Some analysts also believe that student loan forgiveness could prove to be a major step forward in addressing the racial wealth gap in America.

Rumlin says it’s time for more young adults to get involved in the NAACP and student loan debt is one of the reasons.

“Just look at what we are attempting to do. And we need their support in getting these things done," he said. "But I think the national office is in a good posture at this particular time to convince Washington that something needs to be done."

Some borrowers can’t get refinanced or the interest rates are high, Rumlin said. "I mean that’s a major issue. And I’m proud that the national office has come up with their position as it relates to debt forgiveness."

Jamie is an award-winning, Emmy nominated broadcast journalist who serves as a host and reporter for WJCT Public Media.