Black Women Most Affected by Student Loan Crisis

Black women are more heavily saddled by student loan debt than any other group.

Black women are more heavily saddled by student loan debt than any other group.

By Free Radical

Studies have shown that Black women are the most educated demographic in the country. A recent report by the American Association of University Women has shown that that distinction has come at a steep price. “Deeper in Debt: Women and Student Loans,” illuminates that Black women have the most outstanding student loan debt and the most difficulty in paying their loans back.

Black women take out student loans in greater amounts than other groups. The typical Black woman who graduated in 2012 had $29,000 worth of debt upon graduation while White women had $20,210. Asian and White men had the lowest amounts of student debt with $10,868 and $18,394 respectively.

There are a couple of factors at play. While the cost of education has increased, salaries in the US have only grown at a snail’s pace. This shift took place as the economy tilted towards service and technology industries that require college degrees more than in the past.

However, Black families, because of past discrimination and exclusion from the economy, have less to contribute to their children’s tuition. Thus young students have to borrow more often and in greater amounts to complete a degree.

Yet even after graduating, Black professionals are paid less and have a much harder time gaining promotions.

This mismatch of Black women’s remarkable educational  attainment and a stubbornly discriminatory job market has made paying off loans particularly difficult. By 2012, Black women experienced the most difficulty in repaying loans and managing other household bills. Black men suffer as well as they had the highest rate of non-repayment among all groups.

The study makes current calls from radical voices to abolish student loans more urgent. Millions of people in the US are saddled with debt, some of whom have no chance to pay it off. This puts enormous strains on the economy and makes existing chasms of wealth, gender, and race even larger. It also shows that student debt does not operate within a bubble. It is impacted by larger societal problems such as wage stagnation, gender and race inequality, and the outrageously high price of education. The status quo is not just costly, it will soon prove to be untenable.

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