/  05.30.2022

A group of former students at Bennett College are celebrating the fact that they no longer owe money to the school thanks to this move by the Debt Collective.

The organization, which stemmed from the Occupy Wall Street movement, has officially paid off past due balances for roughly 500 former students at the all-women’s historically Black college based in North Carolina.

Thanks to the Debt Collective, a total of $1.7 million in student debt was cleared. Per the United Negro Fund, 462 former students received letters to let them know that the funds that they owed to the college had been paid off.

Bennett College President Suzanne Walsh, initially ignored the emails that came in from the organization regarding the debt owed by students.

“People just don’t reach out and say we can help your students pay off their debts,” said Walsh as she explained her skepticism in an interview with USA Today.

While the debts cleared do not include federal student loans, they are made up of charges that include tuition costs, unpaid parking tickets, and even overdue library fees. Thanks to the Debt Collective, the students will now be able to access academic records like transcripts opening up the opportunity for them to continue their education.

The institution was chosen because as an all-women HBCU, it speaks volumes to the challenges that Black women fact when pursuing higher education.

“These are the people that are really taking the brunt of the student debt crisis,” said the Debt Collective spokesperson, Braxton Brewington.

Thanks to a partnership alongside another nonprofit, Rolling Jubilee, the organization was able to purchase the student loan debt from Bennett who could have sold the debt to a collection agency.

Rolling Jubilee is a nonprofit that buys and forgives various forms of consumer debt which includes funds owed for medical and incarceration-related incidents. The total amount owed was purchased by the organization for $50,000 and completely prohibits Bennett from being able to collect the funds due in full.

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