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July 2, 2023
Statement From Mark A. Brown, Executive Director, Student Freedom Initiative, Regarding the Supreme Court’s Ruling Striking Down President Biden’s Student Debt Forgiveness Plan
After almost four years of forbearance on student loan payments and numerous discussions of loan forgiveness, Americans still owe over $1.6 trillion in federal student loans. This is collectively owed by more than 40 million unique borrowers, and roughly one-third of those borrowers are delinquent, have defaulted or are otherwise distressed.
It is high time that we as a nation begin to look for alternative means to financing higher education. This is especially true for those students who begin their journey disadvantaged by the plagues of cyclical poverty. This particularly applies to Black students who owe an average of $25,000 more in student loans at graduation than their white peers due to gaps in generational wealth. At Student Freedom Initiative, we offer an alternative to traditional student loans for STEM students at Historically Black Colleges and Universities and other Minority Serving Institutions to free them from the burden of student debt, removing one barrier on their paths to promising futures.
Our income contingent agreement is a public-private approach that depends on the talent of the student, the needs of industry and philanthropic support. This private education loan reduces the student loan debt burden on graduates compared to Parent PLUS loans, eliminates need for parent co-signature, and structures repayments based on graduate’s income with student repayments providing an equivalent benefit for future eligible students. We go further in this endeavor by working to support students in securing valuable internships and certifications to further prepare them for an increasingly competitive job market.
We call on industry leaders, philanthropists and policymakers alike to explore alternative means to finance higher education that can replace the federal student loan experience that has failed so many of our students, especially those from underrepresented communities who already contend with numerous barriers throughout their college experience
A single purpose nonprofit organization, Student Freedom Initiative aims to reduce the wealth gap through the lens of education. This is achieved by providing a catalyst for freedom in professional and life choices for students attending Minority Serving Institutions (“MSIs”) by increasing their social and economic mobility using a student centric, evidence based, holistic, and collaborative approach. Initially focused on Historically Black Colleges and Universities, Student Freedom Initiative enables mobility through four transformational components: (1) Student Freedom Fund as a private education loan alternative to Parent PLUS loans, (2) Internships and industry-driven certifications, (3) Comprehensive Supports, and (4) Targeted MSI Capacity Building (e.g., access to affordable broadband, strengthening endowment governance and risk adjusted returns, workforce development in clean energy). Student Freedom Initiative collaborates with community-based organizations, businesses, and governmental entities through public-private partnerships to make sustainable, systemic changes to support the entire MSI ecosystem.