Varsity Blues: Wealth Disparity Worsened by Student Loan Debt

By Tracey Goins

  • Black adults take on 85% more education debt than their counterparts

  • 28% of black students attend the expensive for-profit institutions

Student loan debt is another troubling “Varsity Blues” scandal, since minorities carry significantly more of it than their counterparts. While access to education has been more attainable, long term cost associated with student loans continues to attribute to the growing wealth disparity.

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Why This Matters: Young black adults take on 85% more education debt than their white counterparts, and that disparity compounds by 7% each year after the borrowers leave school, according to a recent study in the Sociology of Race and Ethnicity journal. This is especially troubling considering the current national college admissions scandal, which suggests funds are plentiful in many non-black households, based on the alleged amount of money these parents paid for admissions costs alone.

An estimated 86.8% of black students borrow federal loans to attend four-year public colleges

Since the price of college is on a continual rise, it has become more difficult for African Americans to truly afford the education they value. One of the main reasons black college students owe more is because they come from households with limited savings and less wealth to finance education costs. This community is also more likely to have private loans, which are associated with higher interest rates than federal loans fueling cyclical debt.

Students of color are overrepresented at for-profit universities and the Center for Responsible Lending found 28% of black students attend the expensive institutions. An estimated 86.8% of black students borrow federal loans to attend four-year public colleges, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.

Situational Awareness: African Americans face unique repayment challenges and are impacted far more than any other ethnic group, making affordability subjective in hindsight. The burden of student loan debt is worsening wealth inequality and continues the debt disparity among black college students.

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