Biden’s college plan could decrease the amount of debt and the number of students who have to take out student loans to complete college. Thomas Hudson, president of Jackson State University in Mississippi, says decreasing college costs and the burden of student debt would change the landscape for HBCUs.
“One of the factors in lower retention rates is finances — students just not being able to afford college year to year,” Hudson says. “What it does is it traps students in a pretty tough cycle of debt where they are paying more for their education, and it puts them in a state where they have to go further into debt or they have to take (semesters off).”
About 45% of high school graduates enrolling in a four-year college in 2021 are expected to take on student loans. Those who get a bachelor’s degree from a four-year public college could graduate with an average of $38,147 in student loan debt, according to an upcoming NerdWallet study. That ever-growing debt burden leaves some student advocates to say the American Families Plan doesn’t go far enough.
Jessica Thompson, associate vice president for The Institute for College Access and Success, said in a written statement, “While these investments are historic, we encourage policymakers to go even further by including all public four-year colleges and doubling the maximum Pell Grant, which together would allow all students to access affordable, high-quality education without relying on overly burdensome student debt.”