Also: The Invisible Victims of Soaring Gas Prices.
NYC Announces Settlement With For-Profit College, Eliminating $20 Million Student Debt
New York Mayor Eric Adams announced on March 3 that the for-profit Berkeley College had agreed to a settlement canceling $20 million in loan debt for former students, Business Insider reports. While Berkeley does not admit any wrongdoing, the settlement follows a 2018 lawsuit filed by the city’s Department of Consumer and Worker Protection alleging that Berkeley’s deceptive practices included “inducing students to contract loans directly to Berkeley” and “hide costs from students until it is too late for them to opt out,” according to the press release announcing the settlement.
The Biden administration has taken a piecemeal approach to student debt forgiveness, targeting loans taken out at for-profit colleges and loans taken out by people classified as permanently disabled, as well as expanding eligibility for the existing civil service loan cancellation program (PSLF). Last fall, The Hill estimated that Biden had forgiven more than $9 billion in student loans since taking office.
To put those numbers into perspective, at the start of the pandemic, about 45 million people owed more than $1.8 trillion in student debt, according to Debt Collective, a “debtors’ union” organizing to abolish student debt. unjust debts. All 45 million benefited from the COVID-based pause on student debt payments and interest dating back to March 2020. After repeatedly extending the program, Biden announced the moratorium would expire on May 1. But sources tell CNBC that the Department of Education has asked federal student loan servicing companies to suspend sending notices about resuming payments. For now, it looks like borrowers can get at least one more reprieve before repayment resumes.
HBCU and nonprofit launch Black Wealth Institute
Miami HBCU Florida Memorial University and nonprofit TechNolij announced the creation of the Institute of Black Wealth, a “platform to purposefully and creatively design how black wealth is created.”
Blavity reports that the institute intends to connect black entrepreneurs to business opportunities and use its higher education partnership to educate people about financial planning, home ownership and investing, as well as on “more niche” topics such as crypto and NFTs. Former music industry executive Ted Lucas started TechNolij to create a pipeline of workforce and entrepreneurial talent for women and minorities in tech.
“There are models from the past that prove this type of social engineering works and has created new black millionaires and a stronger black middle class in cities like Atlanta, Detroit and Washington, D.C.,” Lucas said in a statement. joint with Institute co-founder Fabiola Fleuranvil, CEO of Blueprint Creative Group. “Our approach is to design similar structures and accomplish the same through the Institute of Black Wealth and with the support of business partners, banking institutions and funders who understand the role they play. in supporting efforts that deliberately address structural inequalities.”
How rising gas prices affect people living in cars
As residents of car-centric communities across the United States complain about the sudden spike in gas prices, The Guardian shines a light on an invisible victim of the price spike: the people who live in their cars and rely on a running engine to stay warm. A February 2021 USA Today article referred to this type of homelessness as “vehicle residence.”
“Having to idle to warm up when I’m in colder regions definitely has an impact on my gas mileage,” a Michigan woman, speaking on condition of anonymity, told the Guardian. “I don’t have the greatest credit, so buying a home is currently out of reach for me, and with skyrocketing rents and most incomes requiring two to three times the rent, it’s impossible to find anything affordable.”
The National Alliance to End Homelessness estimated the total number of homeless people at around 580,000 in 2020, based on a pre-pandemic count. It is more difficult to accurately estimate the number of people living in vehicles, as they are constantly on the move in search of safe places to park as well as sources of electricity and water.
According to AAA, the average cost of gas in the United States as of March 10 was $4.32 per gallon, down from $2.82 per gallon a year ago. According to The Guardian, this price spike comes even as the 24 largest oil companies reported $174 billion in profits from January to September 2021.
Editor’s note: The title of the article has been changed to clarify the details of the settlement.