A California community college’s graduation gift: forgiving 2021 grads’ student debt

Getty Images / Dan Kitwood

Contra Costa Community College forgave all remaining student debt for its May 2021 graduates.
This lifted a huge financial burden on the 85% of its students that are low- and middle-income.
Biden campaigned on student-debt forgiveness for all borrowers but has not acted on that yet.
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While graduating from college is a significant achievement, many people – 45 million people, that is – are held back by student debt – except for this spring’s Contra Costa Community College graduates.
The Contra Costa College Foundation announced on Monday that as a surprise graduation gift for May graduates, it had paid off all their remaining student debt through its Finish Line Fund. Denver7 News reported that more than 60 students at the Northern California community college received an email from the foundation saying all of their remaining student debt had been cleared, making a huge impact for those graduates, given that 85% of students that attend CCC are low- and middle-income.
"We effectively, without even telling them, paid off every graduating student’s debt," Eric Zell, the president of the foundation, told Denver7. "The Finish Line Fund was able to enable students to graduate because they had anywhere from, could have been as simple as $100. That might not sound like a lot to many people but it’s significant to many of these students."
The foundation’s press release said that COVID-19 has placed an even "steeper’" financial burden on students at community colleges like CCC, and the Finish Line Fund, which covers an average debt of $214 per person, empowers those students to move forward with financial relief.
More schools, and even major companies, are recognizing the burden student debt has on students. Insider reported on May 14 that Delaware State University will cancel up to $730,655 in student debt for recently graduated students who faced financial hardships during the pandemic using funds from President Joe Biden’s stimulus plan.
And last week, Cisco, a multinational technology company, announced it would be investing $150 million to modernize technology and lessen student debt for Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) in a partnership with the nonprofit Student Freedom Initiative.
These actions come as Democrats like Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer are pushing Biden to use his executive authority to cancel up to $50,000 in student debt per borrower. Although Biden has asked the Education and Justice Departments to review his authority to cancel student debt, The Washington Post reported that student debt forgiveness will not be included in Biden’s budget proposal expected to be released this week.
Biden said he would support $10,000 in student debt cancelation during his campaign, but he has yet to act on this promise and has not commented on plans to cancel any amount of student debt.
"Cancelling $50,000 in federal student loan debt will help close the racial wealth gap, benefit the 40% of borrowers who do not have a college degree, and help stimulate the economy," Warren and Schumer said in a February statement."It’s time to act. We will keep fighting."
Read the original article on Business Insider

Source: https://www.businessinsider.com/student-loan-debt-forgiveness-contra-costa-community-college-graduation-gift-2021-5

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