When Jordan Young first listened to the voicemail he’d received during a hectic workday, the contents struck him as an unbelievable tale. But as the authenticity of the news began to permeate his consciousness, Young discovered the enormity of the life-altering turn his life had taken.
All at once, the staggering $21,000 that loomed over him as student debt was erased, leaving him with a balance of zero. The relief, he admitted, was an indescribable blessing.
This week marked an unprecedented move by Morehouse College. In partnership with the Debt Collective, a vehemently proactive non-profit debt relief group, the college declared its radical mission: purchasing and forgiving every account balance attributable to institutional loans up until the Fall 2022 term.
The gift given to the historically Black college, welcoming only male students, was free of any obligations. What it amounted to was an incredible $10 million contributing to the forgiveness of student loans, impacting over 2,700 accounts that owed debt to the college.
Despite any provisions made for federal or private student loans, Young expressed his profound relief and gratitude on being a recipient. He added, “God really has just been so good to me.”
The Debt Collective identifies itself as a ‘union of debtors’ striving to challenge and conquer America’s escalating debt crisis. The collective inaugurated The Rolling Jubilee Fund in 2012. The fund serves as an instrument for buying portfolios of debts owed by individuals on secondary debt markets, and canceling the debt.
The debt which is often acquired at a fraction of its actual worth, instead of being pursued by debt collectors, is simply wiped clean by the Fund. Most recently in July, the fund spent $125,000 to write off $9 million of pending student debt at Morehouse.
Upon receiving Morehouse College’s approval, the Debt Collective promptly wiped out all the debt, declared the college.
Spokesperson for the nonprofit, Braxton Brewington, explained that the Jubilee Fund targets relieving debt incurred due to public education since the outcome can induce drastic and positive changes in lives. Brewington highlighted the ripple effect of this debt cancellation action, stating, “This nearly $10M of student debt cancellation will put thousands of Black folks in a better position to save for retirement, purchase a home or start a small business.”
Extra benefits of this forgiveness action include enabling students to complete their education and access past transcripts that might have been held back due to unpaid fees.
This significant action from Morehouse follows closely on the heels of the Biden administration’s campaign for alternative methods to alleviate the burden faced by student loan borrowers. This new direction was necessitated when the Supreme Court declared the administration’s debt cancellation initiative unconstitutional.
Despite these obstacles, Brewington strongly suggests the administration should persist and accelerate the process of canceling student debt using current programs, laws, and regulations.
Andrew Douglas, a political science professor at Morehouse College and champion of the debt abolishment movement, was instrumental in forging the alliance between the college and the Debt Collective. Douglas directs a class named “Debt and Democracy” at Morehouse that delves into the US debt abolishment movement’s origins.
Douglas forcefully advocates the belief that education should be accessible to the public, pressing for it to be funded accordingly. The professor initiated discussions with the Debt Collective concerning debt cancellations, with the focus specifically on aiding Black men encumbered with student debt.
Douglas acknowledged that while debt cancellation was a firm stride forward, it was certainly the first of many steps required to address the full scope of the student loan crisis in a meaningful way. This view was echoed by Young, who expressed frustration about the struggle to finance an education he believes is essential for entry-level employment.
Despite previously attending Morehouse, Young continues his studies at Sinclair College. The Debt Collective’s commendable actions have reignited his faith in his future. He praised their efforts, stating, “Knowing that good and better can come, even if I don’t yet see for myself, has been so instrumental.”