Less than one month into his presidency, President Joe Biden has proposed a higher education plan that will help working and middle class individuals. Specifically, he plans to invest in community colleges by improving the health and safety of their facilities, providing new technology, and allowing students to use their Pell Grants for expenses outside of school. He also wants to make community colleges tuition-free, while making public colleges and universities tuition-free for families with yearly incomes below $125,000.
Additionally, Biden wants to improve student retention and success that will “give hard-working Americans the chance to join or maintain their place in the middle class” and be able to live comfortably while paying off their student debt. He also proposed providing up to $10,000 in student loan forgiveness for each borrower, regardless of their income. Furthermore, the Biden administration wants to provide more financial support to students by doubling the maximum value of Pell Grants, which are awarded to undergraduate students that need extreme financial assistance and have not yet obtained a college degree. Biden’s goal for his education plan is to help working class Americans reach the middle class with their degrees, and help middle class Americans maintain their place by making college less expensive and not letting their loan debt become a financial burden in the future.
In total, Biden’s plan would help about 44 million Americans. However, Black students stand to benefit the most, as they are more likely to need to take out student loans to attend and afford college than any other race. The high cost of college has caused many people, especially Black students, to drop out of college. While Asian students have a graduation rate of 74%, White students have a rate of 64%, and Hispanic students have a 54% graduation rate, Black students only graduate at a rate of 40%.
Black individuals and communities face many disadvantages that makes it difficult for them to succeed. They have fewer job opportunities, lower incomes, less job stability, and higher unemployment rates. Facing this employment discrimination has caused Black people to have to live in poorer communities with underfunded public schools; a lack of economic resources has made it difficult for them to graduate, pay off their student debt post-graduation and build wealth. Due to the racial disparity patterns, there are many organizations, including The Prosp(a)rity Project that are dedicated to providing Black people with guidance to financial freedom.
College in the United States continues to get more expensive due to the high demand of obtaining a degree. However, it is overpriced, given that a degree does not guarantee a stable, high-paying job. There are many career paths that do not require a college degree; with the right training, certifications, knowledge of specific softwares, prior experience, and/or just a high school diploma or GED, they can make an average of $43,000.
Ultimately, college needs to be more affordable; people who want to receive a formal education shouldn’t have to take out over $30,000 in student loans and spend most of their lives trying to pay it off. Although having $10,000 in student loan forgiveness won’t even cover half of most of the borrower’s loans, it’s a great start in helping people who are already struggling and reduce their stress when it comes to repaying their loans. Biden’s higher education plan may encourage more people to attend college, provide more opportunities to receive education after high school, close wealth gaps, and increase graduation rates. Although his education plan is currently not set in stone, hopefully his course of action lowers the unnecessary high cost in tuition, makes college more affordable to all classes, forgives some student loans, and doesn’t reduce the value of having a college degree.
Joe Biden, The Biden Plan For Education Beyond High School
National Center for Education Statistics, Indicator 23: Postsecondary Graduation Rates
Zip Recruiter, High School Diploma