The 2 Reasons Half of Black Students Graduate College with $25,000 in Debt

A recent Gallup poll found that in the last 14 years, around half of black college students graduated with student loan debt exceeding $25,000. Only 35 percent of white students had loan debt that high.

This is alarming, but let me explain why this is happening—and better yet, what we can do about it.

  1. Student loans are the only way most black students can go to college in the first place. Often the only way for black students to afford a college education is by taking on these loans. Four out of five black students take student loans to attend college and typically have nearly $4,000 more in student loan debt compared to white students, according to a 2013 report by The Center for American Progress.
  2. Income inequality negatively affects black households. In 2013, the median income for black households was $34,600, and the poverty rate is 27%, nearly three times that of white Americans.

Despite the expense, the solution is not to forego a college education—at least according to the Obamas.

Michelle Obama visited Booker T. Washington high school in Atlanta in September 2014. She had an important message to deliver: Do not drop out of school. Go to college. Get out of poverty. Giving up on education is not an option.

President Obama admits that loans helped finance his and the First Lady’s education, and the President tried to convey to America’s youth that he sympathizes with the burden of student loans – they just paid off their student loans ten years ago. He also shares that he and Michelle are saving money for their daughters’ tuition.

Higher education has long been considered the key to escaping poverty, but it doesn’t come without a price tag attached. For black students, the cost is often higher than their white classmates. It is unfortunate that the burden of loan debt often follows students for decades after their graduation. This cycle only reinforces the income and racial inequalities so prevalent today in our country.

What do you think is the solution to the high debt load black students carry after graduating college? Leave your thoughts in the comments.

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