Democratic vice presidential nominee Sen. Kamala Harris promised that if she and Joe Biden are elected, they would make college free for low-income students.
Harris made the promise Thursday at a roundtable discussion held at Florida Memorial University, saying students whose family makes less than $125,000 a year will receive free tuition and pledged student-loan debt forgiveness for some graduates of HBCUs.
“In relation to the history of HBCUs, [students] decide to take on a profession of service, which often does not pay as well as if they go into the private sector and do other things,” Harris said, according to MarketWatch. “So for those students who come out and have jobs that pay less than $125,000, student-loan debt will also be forgiven.”
Harris also promised to invest $70 billion in HBCUs and make two-year college programs free for low-income Americans.
“We want to support our young people for whatever they pursue by way of education after high school,” Harris said. “For some that will be a college and university, for some, it will be a two-year program, or an apprenticeship, or something of that nature, and we want to make sure that we support them in that quest.”
The coronavirus pandemic has wreaked havoc on universities, college students, and their families. Universities are struggling with containing the virus while dealing with significant budget shortfalls.
Jaffus Hardrick, president of Florida Memorial University, told Harris the university is “literally working on a shoestring budget,” due to the economic decline caused by the pandemic.
Meanwhile, college students have had to deal with returning to campus, studying from and living at home, taking gap years to help family, and watching the career they’ve been working toward fall apart due to the pandemic.
Several companies, including McDonald’s and Hewlett-Packard as well as former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, have donated money or resources to help HBCUs this fall.
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