The Student Loan Crisis Is Worse For African American Borrowers

Isheka N. Harrison
Written by Isheka N. Harrison
Student Loans Crisis
2/23/2016 College of DuPage’s Black Student Leadership Conference Tuesday, Feb. 23 2016. Opening remarks and keynote speaker, and events.(Photo for College of DuPage by James C. Svehla) No release signed

In his hit song “Sallie Mae Back,” rapper Dee-1 celebrates being able to get out of student loan debt. He calls the feat, “The New American Dream.” Based on data released by the U.S. Department of Education, Blacks have a much harder time achieving that dream than other races.

The data shows the typical Black student who is 12 years out of college owed more on their federal student loans than they originally borrowed. It also shows nearly half of Black borrowers defaulted, including 75 percent of those who dropped out of for-profit colleges, reported the Center for American Progress.

Racial discrimination in hiring, lack of support while in school and other systemic issues Blacks face that cause them to struggle disproportionately financially are among the reasons the Center for American Progress cite for the discrepancy.

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Data also shows defaults depend more on a student’s circumstances and the type of institution they attended than their total amount of debt, according to Inside Higher Ed.

However, it should be noted that students who graduate from Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) struggle more with student loan debt than others. While known for producing top Black leaders and successful professionals, HBCU graduates and millennials are feeling the consequences of student loan debt more than any other group.

It is not a problem that can be solved overnight. However, the Center for American Progress submitted a proposal to Congress to end default status in hopes it would help borrowers who are struggling. The center is also calling for greater accountability by policymakers and fixing admissions practices and funding systems so Black students are given a better chance to receive affordable, high-quality education.