HBCU Grads Struggle With Disproportionately High Student Loan Debt

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Written by Ann Brown
HBCU
In this Monday, Nov. 13, 2017 photo, Devante Kincade, quarterback for the Grambling’s NCAA college football game college football team, listens during a criminal justice class at the university in Grambling, La. Kincade, who played two seasons at Mississippi , says playing football at a Historically Black College or University is an experience to savor. Playing at an HBCU is not just about entertaining halftime shows the schools are known for, it’s about community. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)

News about the current student loan crisis just keeps getting more and more serious, so much, in fact, some economic experts say it may cause the next recession. But even more troubling is that a heavier burden of these debts is being carried  disproportionately by graduates of Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), according to a recent front-page story in the Wall Street Journal.

The WSJ reported that HBCU alumni have a median federal-debt load of about $29,000 at graduation. This is a whopping 32 percent more than graduates of other public and nonprofit four-year schools. Black women have been found to have the highest debt.

And HBCU graduates have not been paying down their debt. “The majority of HBCU grads haven’t paid down even $1 of their original loan balance in the first few years out of school,” the Independent Women’s Forum reported.


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There are 82 four-year HBCUs that make up 5 percent of all four-year higher-learning institutions. However, HBCUs represent more than 50 percent of the 100 schools with the lowest three-year student-loan repayment rates.

And it’s not just Black grads from HBCUs who have trouble repaying student loans. Around 50 percent of African-American borrowers who were freshmen at any kind of college institution in the 2003-2004 school year have wound up defaulting on a student loan within 12 years. That’s twice as much as white borrowers, acc a Jording to a June 2018 paper by Columbia University associate professor Judith Scott-Clayton, entitled “What accounts for gaps in student loan default, and what happens after.”