From the moment black students graduate from colleges and universities, they already owe more than their white counterparts. But in the four years after graduation, that debt gap triples.
On average, black college students owe $7,400 more than their white colleagues when they graduate, but within four years, that debt gap increases to $25,000 on average, with many black graduates owing twice as much money as their white counterparts. While college and university costs have soared across the board, the biggest increase in debt by far was held by African-American students.
“I was shocked when I saw these numbers,” said Judith Scott-Clayton, an associate professor at Columbia University’s Teachers College, who co-wrote the study. “We’ve been hashing them for months trying to see, ‘Are we missing something?’”
The difference in the debt owed by black and white graduates isn’t just a result of how much the two groups borrow on average, as undergraduate debt only makes up less than half of the gap. Instead, the gap is credited to “growing black-white wage gaps, as well as to differences in graduate enrollment (which allows students to defer loan payments).”
In essence, black students are more likely to have to take out loans to pay for college in the first place, and when the graduate, the wage gap makes it difficult to pay back their debt as quickly as their white counterparts. That disparity, in addition to problems such as enrollment in for-profit universities for graduate programs, compounds the debt problem and makes it more difficult for black students to reap the benefits of that education in the workforce and provide for families, taking more wealth from the hands of Black America.
You can read the entire report here.