Blacks Are More Likely To Take On Student Loan Debt Than Whites
U.S. congressman Elijah Cummings and Sen. Elizabeth Warren recently joined forces to discuss the issues with student loan debt in this country and break down the racial barriers when it comes to who is falling victim to the debt boom…
Via The National Journal:
Today the majority of all college students—at two-year and four-year, private and public institutions—rely on grants and loans to pay tuition. Americans now hold about $1.2 trillion in student debt, and right now most borrowers aren’t paying off their debts at all.
Cummings and Warren are particularly concerned about the effect student debt has on African-American borrowers. “African-American students are more likely to take on debt—and more debt—than white, Latino, and Asian-American students,” Cummings said at the event. In 2013, 42 percent of African-American families had student loans, compared to 28 percent of white families, according to the Urban Institute, a Washington, D.C. think tank.
That racial gap is driven by an enormous wealth disparity, Cummings said. The average African-American household has a total net worth of $11,000, according a Pew Research Center analysis. That’s not enough to pay for even a single semester at Howard, and it’s barely enough to cover a year of tuition at a public university like the University of Maryland-Baltimore County. In contrast, the average white family has a net worth of $141,900.
The startling discrepancy in household wealth means that a white family and a black family can have the same income but a radically different financial situation. It’s a disparity rooted in history, as The Atlantic’s Ta-Nehisi Coates has explained, and it means that the average black family today essentially lives without a financial safety net.
Student loans can be a lifeline, helping students finance college degrees even as tuition prices rise. Tyrone Hankerson, a current Howard senior, told forum attendees that he’s financing his education through a combination of scholarships, work-study aid, and a loan his parents took out on his behalf. After he graduates, he plans on going to law school.
But loan payments can become a heavy burden. One Howard graduate, Latechia Mitchell, said that her undergraduate degree was largely financed by scholarships, but she took out $60,000 for graduate school and to get a teacher certification. Although she and her husband both have college degrees and professional jobs, they can afford to pay only the interest on their cumulative student debt.