Nearly 3,000 Morehouse College alumni and current students will have $9.7 million in debts they owed directly to the school erased as part of a deal with a national debtors union.
The private, all men’s historically Black college in Atlanta announced this week that all 2,777 accounts that had been past due in collections will be erased through a partnership with the Debt Collective, an organization working to end student loan debt for all students nationwide. The debts include outstanding fees and unpaid tuition the students owed to Morehouse, the type of delinquent accounts that can prevent them from accessing their transcripts or diploma. Some of the eliminated debts go back decades, while others are as recent as the fall 2022 term.
“Our nation is defaulting on the promise of education when we burden communities, especially Black HBCU graduates, with crushing amounts of student debt,” said Braxton Brewington, a representative for the Debt Collective, in a written statement. “This nearly $10 million of student debt cancellation will put thousands of Black folks in a better position to be able to save for retirement, purchase a home or start a small business.”
As part of the deal, Morehouse transferred the unpaid accounts to the Rolling Jubilee Fund, a nonprofit organization affiliated with the Debt Collective that purchases debt and erases it. The fund paid $125,000 for the Morehouse debt, or a just over a penny on the dollar.
Those whose Morehouse debts are being erased could still owe federal student loans, a different kind of debt owned by the federal government and not a student’s school.
The Debt Collective has wiped out debt for students before. Last year, it erased nearly $2 million of debt held by about 500 students who attended Bennett College, a liberal arts college for Black women in Greensboro, North Carolina.
This isn’t the first time Morehouse graduates have received an unexpected boost to help with college costs. The 2019 graduating class learned at their commencement that billionaire Robert F. Smith pledged to pay off their student loans, a gift with an initial estimated cost of up to $40 million.