The extended pause on student loan payments has allowed relief and reallocation of funds for those suffering from the effects of the pandemic — especially for Black women.
The New York Times reports that Black women face $1.7 trillion dollars in student loan debt.
Women hold 2/3 of all student debt, an American Association of University Women's study shows, and Black women have amassed the most education debt at $41,466 for undergraduate studies and $75,085 for graduate school one year after graduating.
Fenadba R. Addo, a University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill professor, told NYT, “A lot of Black women are pursuing additional credentials, going back for graduate work and having to take on debt to do so.”
The payment pause has allowed Black women, who are shouldering a disproportionate amount of student loan debt, to start savings accounts, catch up on bills, invest in retirement funds, and purchase homes.
Elliot O'Connor owes $152,000 in education debt, and she said saving money was impossible before the payment moratorium. “It was a blessing for me to catch my breath and figure things out,” O’Connor told NYT.
Joy Omenyi faces $72,000 in student debt from her studies at the University of Virginia and the University of Maryland. With the payment pause, Omenyi reallocated her funds to purchase a home that she’s renting out, added to her 401k retirement fund, and began investing in the stock market.
“I’m being bullish with the money because I want to get to a point where the things I’ve invested in can pay [my student loan] off,” Omenyi said. “With the property, I know that when rent comes in it is just going to go directly to the Department of Education.”
The suspension of Parent Plus loan payments was a relief for Lisa Jackson, a single mother of two, but she noted that it's only temporary.
"Debt is still looming in the background, like a monster that’s being kept at bay for now,” Jackson shared.
President Joe Biden’s administration is facing pressure to extend the payment moratorium, but federal student loan payments are currently set to resume in May.