Student loans

Organization pays off $1.7 million in student debt for Bennett

GREENSBORO, NC — An organization committed to canceling student debt has covered the unpaid debt of nearly 500 former Bennett College students.

What do you want to know

  • The Debt Collective and the Rolling Jubilee Fund have forgiven $1.7 million in student loans for nearly 500 former Bennett College students
  • President Biden is expected to announce a decision on the proposed $10,000 student debt forgiveness later this summer
  • The average American’s student loan debt is around $30,000

The Debt Collective has partnered with the Rolling Jubilee Fund to cover funds owed directly to the college by 462 former Bennett Belles, totaling $1.7 million. Amber Wike was surprised when she received the phone call in May.

“Any cancellation of my student loans is a blessing. I’m happy, I don’t care. I was really happy. I hope it continues,” she said.

Wike attended Bennett College in Greensboro to study psychology. She took out loans to cover the first year of her schooling, but growing expenses pushed her to continue her studies in a public school.

“I was transferred because I was afraid of student loans. Private colleges are higher lending, so I figured I wasn’t sure I could do this for four years or I definitely would have stayed,” she said.

Wike now lives in Fayetteville and works in social work. Over the years, his student debt would weigh on his mind and his life decisions. Although she worked her way up to earn more money in her career, it still wasn’t enough to cover her student debt. She practices guided meditation and body painting for her mental health.

In mid-May, she received a phone call telling her that her outstanding debt to Bennett College would be covered. She didn’t believe it until she received a statement in the mail. Now, she hopes other students seeking education to better their lives can achieve the same grace as her.

According to National Center for Education Statistics, Black women are the most educated minority group, but their salaries do not always reflect this. The American Association of University Women found that black women earn 63 cents for every dollar earned by a white man. The Debt Collective’s decision to help an HBCU that serves women of color means a lot to Wike.

“We’ve normalized it so much that it doesn’t seem as crazy, but it’s extremely expensive to get an education,” she said.

During his presidential campaign, President Joe Biden supported forgiveness of a minimum of $10,000 in federal student loan debt per borrower for Americans earning less than $150,000. The Biden administration is not expected to announce a decision on student loan forgiveness until late summer.

The current average student debt balance is approximately $30,000.