EducationStacy M. Brown

As Student Loan Debt Plagues Black Grads, Pleas for Cancellation Grow Louder

African-American college graduates reportedly owe an average of $25,000 more in student loan debt than white college graduates.

Four years after graduation, 48 percent of Black students owe an average of 12.5 percent more than they borrowed and 29 percent face monthly student loan payments of $350 or more.

That excessive debt has many urging President Joe Biden to forgive student loan debt.

“We know the current higher education system is broken with a $1.7 trillion student loan debt plaguing our economy and students taking longer to graduate college or not finishing at all,” said Kevin Chavous, a former D.C. Councilman and current president of Academic Policy at Stride, Inc.

“We know students of color are saddled with a larger share of that burden. The inequities in education for students of color start long before college with limited access to SAT and ACT prep courses, schools and districts with fewer electives and advanced classes and less access to technology in and out of school,” Chavous remarked.

“All of this adds up to a disparity in preparation for an already antiquated assessment of college readiness,” he concluded.

According to estimates from The Brookings Institution, Black college graduates owe an average of $52,726 in student debt while white college grads owe approximately $28,006.

The Urban Institute reported that among borrowers between the ages of 25 and 55 who took on college debt to finance their undergraduate degree, Black borrowers owe $32,047 on average.

In contrast, white and Hispanic borrowers owe about $18,685 and 15,853, respectively.

Since the pandemic began, the federal government froze student loan debt, resulting in borrowers saving about $2,000.

President Biden also suspended collections on loans in default to private lenders which has resulted in an estimated $72 billion in relief.

Still, many Democratic lawmakers have called on the president to cancel student loan debt. So far, Biden has canceled $1.5 billion in debt for those defrauded by for-profit schools.

Meanwhile, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-New York) continues to lead a contingent of Democrats urging the president to do more. They want President Biden to cancel as much as $50,000 in student loan debt per borrower.

Biden, who pledged to cancel $10,000 per borrower when he took office, said he’s reluctant to forgive debt for those who went to expensive private schools like Harvard and Yale.

“For millions of student borrowers, one of the most difficult challenges is balancing their debt with their dreams of starting a career, starting a family, and buying a home,” Schumer said. “When the pandemic hit, these challenges magnified a hundredfold. Job opportunities disappeared and our economy came to a halt.”

“Even as the economy recovers, young people, borrowers with a load of debt will struggle more than most to get back on their feet. Why not give them a little more breathing room?” he suggested.

Jennifer Blatz, president and CEO of StriveTogether, offered that if the Biden-Harris administration remains serious about addressing significant threats to the nation’s economic viability and narrowing the racial wealth gap, reducing student loan debt should be among the tools they use.

“Its impact is immediate and measurable,” Blatz insisted.

“Loan forgiveness could address these racial inequities, which are getting even wider because of the pandemic. Student debt forgiveness, while providing stability to families and the economy in this immediate crisis, would give us an opportunity to step back and address the systems that have brought us to the moment of desperation,” she said.

Blatz added that taking a holistic view of racial and economic disparities remains tantamount including “inequities in postgraduate opportunities and employment.”

“Canceling student debt would help the nation reset to seek more sustainable solutions,” she said.

Stacy M. Brown

I’ve worked for the Daily News of Los Angeles, the L.A. Times, Gannet and the Times-Tribune and have contributed to the Pocono Record, the New York Post and the New York Times. Television news opportunities have included: NBC, MSNBC, Scarborough Country, the Abrams Report, Today, Good Morning America, NBC Nightly News, Imus in the Morning and Anderson Cooper 360. Radio programs like the Wendy Williams Experience, Tom Joyner Morning Show and the Howard Stern Show have also provided me the chance to share my views.

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