Biden’s new plan to cancel student debt is a major movement victory, but there’s much more to be done for those hardest hit by the crisis.

By Sara Herschander, Waging Nonviolence

Following over a decade of activism against the United States’ massive student debt crisis, President Biden announced a plan on Wednesday to cancel a significant amount of student loan debt for tens of millions of low and middle-income Americans.

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Many organizers, whose work made the announcement possible, have viewed the news as a major victory for their movement. However, they also see it as just a small first step in a country where many borrowers — especially Black and Brown borrowers — are saddled with far deeper debts, and the root causes of educational inequity remain largely unaddressed.

“This $10,000 further marginalizes the already most-marginalized,” said Dr. Richelle Brooks, a member of the Debt Collective and founder of ReTHINK It, who currently owes $240,000 in student loan debt. “There are millions of working class people — especially Black women — who won’t see any benefit from this,” she said, emphasizing the announcement’s small impact on those with far larger debts.

Since 2012, the Debt Collective, formed in the aftermath of the Occupy Wall Street movement, has been organizing student debtors, many of whom have embraced debt strikes as a tool and expression of racial and economic justice. Brooks is a member of the Biden Jubilee 100, a group of 100 student debt strikers who’ve declared themselves on strike from ever repaying their student loan balances, and are demanding that Biden cancel all debt.

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