President Biden has made appearances at Delaware State before as Vice President and again while campaigning for President, but this was the first time a sitting U.S. President has visited the university.
“It’s a beautiful thing, the President of the United States coming to Delaware State University,” said senior Jordan Spencer. “I’m speechless, honestly.”
The president spoke before a crowd of dignitaries, University leaders, faculty, staff, and students encouraging students to apply for the historic debt forgiveness program.
This program will allow people making less than $125,000 annually to be forgiven $10,000 in debt and those who qualified for a Pell Grant will receive $20,000. The plan will affect 43 million Americans, 90% of whom make less than $75,000, and almost 1.5 million will be HBCU students.
“Not a dime, not a dime, will go to the top 5 percent of income earners,” said President Biden. “This goes to people who really need it.”
Biden said that in less than a week since the application launched, close to 22 million people have already filled out an application. He also said the White House has received more than 10,000 letters in support of the debt relief.
He also took the time to call out Republican lawmakers who have attacked the program. “Their outrage was wrong and it’s hypocritical,” he said, adding that many of the critics took advantage of federal debt relief during the pandemic.
However, just hours after his remarks, a federal court judge temporarily blocked the Biden administration from enacting the student debt relief program.
During Biden’s speech, the President went on to credit young people for electing him and stressed the importance of the upcoming midterm elections.
As Democrats are in danger of losing control of Congress, Biden codified abortion access if the U.S. Senate picks up more Democratic senators, which was met with cheers from the audience. He also highlighted policy wins like marijuana reforms and infrastructure funding as well as zeroing in on the Republican critics of his debt relief plan.
“Let’s talk about who is against helping millions of you who need the help,” Biden said to the students at the university, where 75% of students are recipients of Pell grants. “Republican governors wrote me a letter saying this relief only helps ‘the elite few.’ Y’all know you’re the elite few? I knew you were really special, but no, you’re the elite few.”
“Who in the hell do they think they are?” he later added.
He also alluded to his plans in 2024: “I’m coming back and I’m going to eliminate assault weapons again.”
Before the President took the stage, Delaware State President Tony Allen, who served as a speechwriter for then-Senator Biden, said that this administration has supported HBCUs in a number of ways, from $5.8 billion in federal aid, hiring more HBCU graduates to work in his administration and increasing Pell Grant awards.
“Less than two years into his term, President Biden has done more for HBCUs than any other president in American History,” said President Allen. “The facts are unmistakable.”
The President has been very supportive of Delaware State in particular, said President Allen. “Since the moment he announced his first Senatorial run in 1971, standing next to one of my most distinguished predecessors, Dr. Luna Mishoe, President Biden has never forgotten about Delaware State University,” he said. “Perhaps even more importantly, he has never forgotten about the plight of people of color in this country.”
Biden credited Delaware State and HBCUs for the institutions’ support throughout his political career.
“We are here at Delaware State University because it holds such a special place in my heart,” said President Biden. “There is no better example of a university that has changed so many lives.”