Low-to-moderate-income Black students and graduates bear a larger burden of college loans than White students, according to new research from the Center for Social Development at Washington University.
According to the authors, led by the center’s associate director, Michal Grinstein-Weiss, Black low- and moderate-income students racked up $7,721 more education debt than their White counterparts and that disparity persisted even after those students earned their degree.
“Pursuing higher education to earn a college degree remains a strong predictor of upward mobility and wage growth over a lifetime,” the report’s authors wrote. “Yet as students borrow for college and weigh expected returns, the risk of excessive debt accumulation remains high for Black students, particularly those from low-income households,”
The study, “Racial disparities in education debt burden among low- and moderate-income households,” was published in the online journal “Children and Youth Services.”
The researchers further contend that differences in the socioeconomic circumstances between White and Black low-to-moderate-income households did not explain the gap in debt.
The study adds to the growing body of work examining the rising toll of student debt in the United States and the undue burden borne by students of color.
According to the U.S. Department of Education, the nation’s college loan debt ballooned from $516 billion to $1.2 trillion between 2007 and 2015, outstripping credit card and auto loan debts. As the AFRO reported in March, both the percentage of Black students who accumulate debt to finance their studies and their average loan amounts are exceeding those of their counterparts.
Graduating with excessive debt can have a deleterious impact on one’s future, wrote Mark Kantrowitz, a nationally-recognized expert on student financial aid, scholarships and student loans, in a recent policy paper. Students who graduate with burdensome debt often delay major life choices such as marriage and having children, and often juggle more than one job, work more than they would like or take a job outside their field.