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Responding to the COVID-19 Crisis: Protecting Student Borrowers amid the Pandemic

Join Kimberlyn Leary, senior vice president of the Urban Institute, for the next installment in Urban’s conversation series, Evidence to Action. During this virtual event, Fenaba R. Addo, associate professor at the University of Wisconsin–Madison, James Kvaal, president of The Institute for College Access and Success, and Sandy Baum, nonresident senior fellow at the Urban Institute, will join Leary to discuss how pandemic relief efforts should support vulnerable student borrowers.

Much like the impacts of the pandemic, the effects of student debt are not felt evenly. Many borrowers with the largest loan balances have relatively high incomes to show for it, whereas those with small loans tend to have lower incomes and to struggle more with repayment. And those most likely to struggle with student debt, such as Black borrowers and those who left school without a degree, are also among those mostly likely to have lost their jobs because of the pandemic.  

The CARES Act suspended federal student loan payments and interest for six months, but this protection is rapidly approaching its end while the economy continues to struggle, and some borrowers could face significant hardship if Congress does not act.

With a debate over the next round of federal relief policies ongoing, our guests will discuss how policymakers can equitably help borrowers manage their student debt burden during the pandemic and economic crisis.

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  • Fenaba R. Addo, Lorna Jorgenson Wendt Associate Professor in Money, Relationships, and Equality, Department of Consumer Science, University of Wisconsin–Madison School of Human Ecology
  • Sandy Baum, Nonresident Senior Fellow, Urban Institute
  • James Kvaal, President, The Institute for College Access and Success
  • Kimberlyn Leary, Senior Vice President, Urban Institute (moderator)

The Evidence to Action conversation series elevates the voices of leaders and changemakers responding to, recovering from, and building resilience during and after the COVID-19 pandemic. The Urban Institute was built for this moment. We answer tough questions with unbiased, rigorous research and evidence-based solutions. For 50 years, we have studied what it takes to strengthen social safety net programs, dismantle structural racism, protect workers and families, and build community resilience. Using advanced analytics, data science, technology, and decades of expertise, we equip changemakers with the facts and insights they need to accelerate solutions.


Until further notice, all Urban Institute events will be online.
Watch our virtual events live or come back later for the recording.

Send any inquiries regarding this event to [email protected].


Date & Time Wednesday, August 5, 2020

  • Nonresident Senior Fellow
  • Executive Vice President