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Black Graduate Students Weighed Down by Huge Loan Debt: Report

With graduate students taking on $37 billion in debt each year, there is growing evidence that programs allowing them to borrow uncapped amounts of money at expensive interest rates have made repayment unsustainable, particularly for Blacks, according to a new report from the Center for American Progress.

In addition, while nearly 80 percent of Black students completing their graduate degrees in the 2015-16 academic year had accumulated federal debt for their graduate education and the median amount of this debt was more than $51,000, almost 90 percent of African American students who took on federal loans for graduate school and finished in the 2015-16 academic year still had debt from undergraduate studies.

“The sustained rise in graduate debt also has substantial equity implications, particularly for Black students who are more likely to borrow in graduate school and have more undergraduate debt than their White peers. As a result, the median debt for a Black student borrower finishing graduate school is 50 percent higher than that of a White borrower,” according to the report.

The crisis has become so dire that many borrowers with large debt balances are grappling with interest charges that are larger than the payments they are making.

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